As the Penguins get set to begin training camp, a few questions remain as to their possible weaknesses. Some of the questions that follow them into their first day of camp are: Will the goaltending be as strong as it was last season? Has the defense improved over the offseason? Will Sid have a dependable set of wingers to be paired with?
Assuming that Marc Andre Fleury can resume his stellar play that he turned in after coming back from his injury, starting goaltending seems to be no problem. Fleury needs to work a little more on his puck-clearing skills that he was developing at the end of last season.
Backup goaltending is the area in question. Dany Saborin was average at best last season. He did show a few flashes of stability last year, but not enough to carry the club if Fleury should go down with an injury.
Perhaps someone will have a great camp and push Saborin out of the backup spot. There are a few good prospects going into camp.
The question of overall team defense seems to be a wash. The team neither made any significant improvement or lost any ground in the offseason. With Whitney out to injury, can Eaton remain healthy and fill in as the steady, solid blueliner we all know that he can be?
Will the crop of farmhands impress the coaching staff and stay with the club into the new season?
If Gonchar and Gill can regain the momentum and solid, steady play that they possessed last season, and the prospect of the potential skills of some of the baby Penguins coming into the camp, the defense looks to be in the same shape as last year, if not a slight improvement.
Now, if we can only teach these guys how to clear the front of the net with more consistency, the defense would improve drastically!
Assuming that one or two of the offseason acquisitions can gel with Crosby in camp and develop a good groove with Sid, the first line should improve. Obviously, the third and fourth lines will need to be revamped, with the loss of key players from those lines. This is the one area that will have to be watched the closest as the Pens enter camp.
Going into training camp 2008, the overall picture, on paper, seems to be bright. Assuming no major loss to injury, the Penguins will be very competitive this season and a playoff spot should be theirs for the taking.
It should be an interesting camp with a lot of competition for a few remaining spots. Of course, the season will always be entertaining. Can't wait!