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Training Camp Outlook: Well Rested Machine

by Jason Seidling / Pittsburgh Penguins
On one hand, most of the Penguins’ core of talented superstars are all in their early 20s and quite capable of handling a heavy workload.

On the other hand, it doesn’t matter how young your legs are – when you play 303 hockey games over three seasons (including postseason), it’s bound to catch up to you at some point.

“The offseason was longer than we wanted it to be, but I think we had a chance to get some guys healthy and got that edge back,” Chris Kunitz said. “I think we want to get out there and compete. With this team being to two Finals in a row and then getting to the second round, that’s a lot of hockey in three years.”

Factor in four of the Penguins’ key players – Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Brooks Orpik and Marc-Andre Fleury – spent two weeks in February toiling for their respective countries at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver and you can see how the fuel tank might have been approaching empty for the Penguins by the playoffs.

Which is why the extra month the players received during the offseason – albeit time they rather would not have had – might prove to be a good thing heading into ’10-11.

Jordan Staal’s injury notwithstanding, the Penguins enter this year as fresh and healthy as they have in three years. The extra month off gave them time to properly heal last year’s aches and pains, and it left time to put in the extra strength training that back-to-back Stanley Cup Final runs prevented. Expect that to pay off in a big way come April and May.

“It was a lot of hockey, but you can’t use that as an excuse,” Pascal Dupuis said. “At the same time, guys are going to be well rested this year and all of the little injuries, except for Jordan, are going to be healed.”

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