Pittsburgh Penguins: Why the Pens Are the Stanley Cup Favorites in 2013

Jon ReidCorrespondent IIJanuary 19, 2013

PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 20:  Steve Sullivan #26 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates his first period goal against the Philadelphia Flyers in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Consol Energy Center on April 20, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The 2013 NHL regular season will get underway Saturday afternoon and include 13 games throughout opening day.

The Pittsburgh Penguins will take the ice on Saturday to open their season against the hated in-state rival Philadelphia Flyers.

If everything goes according to plan, it should be a season that ends with the Pens lifting the prestigious Stanley Cup. With one of the better goaltenders in the league and the most intimidating offensive attack in the NHL, the 2013 Penguins have to be considered the early favorites.

Sidney Crosby is healthy right now and Evgeni Malkin is already playing in midseason form, as he filled the NHL lockout by playing overseas in the KHL.

With the likes of James Neal, Pascal Dupuis, Tyler Kennedy and the newly acquired Brandon Sutter also ready to play, Pittsburgh boasts one of the deepest forward cores as well.

On the back end, guys like Kris Letang and Matt Niskanen should also figure prominently into Pittsburgh's offensive game, while the team also boasts shutdown defensemen like Brooks Orpik and Paul Martin.

Youngster Simon Despres may also be expected to lace up his skates for the Penguins' opener on Saturday, which would be a big plus for Pittsburgh.

As one of the team's top young prospects, Despres would add depth on the blue line and would be an excellent puck-handling defenseman—especially for someone playing on the second or third pairing.

From top to bottom, this Pittsburgh Penguins team is stacked.

Up front, it's got two or three lines that can really burn you while having hardly any holes on the back end.

Throw in one of the NHL's elite goaltenders in Marc-Andre Fleury, as well as what could be one of the top three backup netminders in the league (Tomas Vokoun), and you've got a team that will be tough to beat in each one of its 48 games this season.