DESTINY HAS A NEW HOME is the new catch phrase for the Penguins this season as they move from the antiquated Igloo to the Consol Energy Center. Yeah. Destiny. Being the NHL's darlings has nothing to do with it.
It is easy to abhor the Pens. Very, very easy. They have many loathable players, they have had significant success against the Rangers and they put us in the position of rooting for the damned French in the playoffs. They are on national tv all the time (four of our six games will be on Versus or NBC), they are getting a second Winter Classic and they make the Blueshirts look bad by being excessively friendly to their fans. Wah, wah, freakin' wah, I know, I know.
Those bandwagon Penguin fans always throw "you wish you had Crosby and our team" in our faces and they are - in general - wrong. We don't wish we had that crybaby, we don't wish we had that idiot Cooke or the rest of the clowns ... we wish we had their franchise. The franchise that cares. The franchise that understands that they should service the fans or at least work as partners. The franchise that adapts and changes with new challenges.
Familiar Foes: You know 'im, you hate 'im, you're inundated with 'im in eeeeeevery damned NHL promotion - Sidneyyyyyyyyyy Crosssssssssssssssssbbbyyyy. Boo. Cindy will have his usual runningmates around: Geno Malkin, Free Candy Orpik, DayGloSmile Fleury, Dammit Cookie, Eyebrows Dupuis, WangBang Letang, Shhhh Talbot, Mike F-ing Hat Trick Rupp, etc. Jordan Staal is still on the Pens but will miss the start of the season with an infection and Eric Godard is sure to miss plenty of games with "can't skate scratchitis."
N00bz: There is virtually no need for Godard anymore as they have Talbot, Rupp and new acquisition Arron Asham all capable of tussling while skating. It is hard to hate Asham as he clearly selects his teams to give the Rangers the most trouble, now having played for every other team in the Atlantic - gotta appreciate that kind of hatred. Others added by Pittsburgh also have a lot of experience against us: Paul Martin from the Devils and Mike Comrie of the Islanders (via Edmonton and Ottawa). Martin will be joined by shot blocker extraordinaire Zbynek Michalek on the blueline, where former Ranger Corey Potter may (doubtfully but hopefully) be given a shot.
Last Year: Friday, October 2nd 3-2 Penguins win; Saturday, November 28th 8-3 Penguins win; Monday, November 30th 5-2 Penguins win; Monday, January 25th 4-2 Penguins win; Friday, February 12th 3-2 Rangers overtime win; and Thursday, March 4th 5-4 Penguins overtime win.
This Year: Monday, November 15th in Pittsburgh; Monday, November 29th @ MSG; Wednesday, December 15th in Pittsburgh; Tuesday, February 1st @ MSG; Sunday, February 13th @ MSG; Sunday, March 20th in Pittsburgh.
What They Mean To Blue: As you can see, the Pens easily represented the difference between making the playoffs and not making it last season - especially when they blew a 4-3 third period lead in that late March overtime loss. Going 1-4-1 against a division rival, even one as admittedly skilled as Cindy's side, is unacceptable.