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Maybe not the boldest prediction, but this is the biggest. The Penguins will win the 2013 Stanley Cup.
While they’re coming off the heels of an embarrassing first-round exit in 2012, the experience should prove to be an eye-opener. It will help refocus the club on the importance of discipline and special teams, especially in the beginning of the season as players get readjusted to the NHL game.
The top line of Crosby, Kunitz and Dupuis is one that has the potential to carry the team deep into the playoffs.
Other than revisiting past strategies that have worked, they’ve made strides to improve glaring weaknesses. Brandon Sutter should round out a depth line of forwards that can fight the puck away from the opposition and convert on those plays.
While the Penguins could use more offensive players like Kris Letang on the blue line, they’ve got plenty of defensive force between their six defensemen. Besides their top six, prospect Robert Bortuzzo could be on hand as a seventh blueliner. Bortuzzo could even find himself being rotated in occasionally, playing a shutdown role.
Plenty of the factors that contributed to the Penguins winning the Stanley Cup in 2009 will return in 2013. The fact that they’ve gone out of their way to address shortcomings, it’s hard to think of teams with more championship potential than the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Michael Prunka is a Bleacher Report Featured Columnist. Stay up to date with him by liking his Facebook page and following him on Twitter.