Folks, to quote Hall of Fame broadcaster Mike Lange, "It's a Hockey Night in Pittsburgh!" Tonight the Penguins will raise their fifth Stanley Cup banner to the rafters against the St. Louis Blues just before 8:00PM with face-off set for just after 8:00PM.
It seems like June 11th was just yesterday. The legendary Game Six in Nashville. Patric Hornqvist with 1:35 to go in the third period. Carl Hagelin ices the game with an empty-netter to put the Penguins up 2-0. Being inside PPG Paints Arena for the Watch Party, tossing popcorn everywhere in celebration. It was magical. A cop even took a selfie on one of our phones later that night as we continued to rage on Fifth Avenue. You don't forget that stuff.
(see, we weren't kidding. Also, if you know who this cop is, please thank him and tell him what a good guy he is).
Though all of this took place just 115 days ago, so much has changed. This offseason the Penguins said goodbye to many players including goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and winger Chris Kunitz, both of whom won three Stanley Cups during their time here in Pittsburgh. In addition to Fleury and Kunitz, the Penguins also lost Nick Bonino, Matt Cullen, Trevor Daley, Ron Hainsey, Mark Streit, Oskar Sundqvist, and as of yesterday afternoon, Derrick Pouliot (thank god).
With loss comes gain and the Penguins did add a few players over the summer. Former Dallas Stars goaltender Antti Niemi will now backup two-time Stanley Cup champion goaltender Matt Murray. Ryan Reaves was acquired from St. Louis to beat the living piss out of players that try to goon it up with Crosby and Malkin. Greg McKegg was just a depth signing and after a strong training camp, he'll end up being the Penguins third line center tonight. Matt Hunwick was added to be the sixth defenseman. The Penguins also signed some other players, but they were also just depth signings. I'm sure you'll see those players at some point this season, considering the team is usually injured by mid October.
*stripes will be updated closer to game time, probably*
Phil Kessel is a 2x Stanley Cup champion.
We didn't write much about the Blues, because let's be real, tonight isn't about the Blues. It's about the Penguins raising a banner, skating around with the Stanley Cup, showing off their rings, and making everyone that isn't a Penguin fan or player mad.
In reality, the Blues can't be that good considering Oskar Sundqvist and Chris Thorburn are actually starting on their team.
They did lose star forward Robby Fabbri for the entire season with a torn ACL though, so that's not good.
I forgot Beau Bennett was a member of the Blues too. He's hurt, probably.
Also, we would have been rooting for the Blues had Jagr chose to sign with St. Louis. Double J inked a 1 year deal with the Calgary Flames the other day but the Blues were said to be in the mix as well.
#JagrWatch is only just beginning, folks.
Matt Murray will be the first goalie not named Marc-Andre Fleury to start an opening night for the Penguins since the 2006 season.
Remember last season, banner night against the Capitals? Winning 3-2 in a shootout after raising a banner against them. Good times.
Folk, Sidney Crosby, you know, 'Sid the Kid' is 30 years old. Feel old yet?
Kris Letang will play his first regular season game since February 21st. Letang was recovering from surgery on a herniated disc in his neck that caused him to miss a significant amount of time.
Speaking of injuries, don't expect winger Patric Hornqvist to play tonight as he's still recovering from surgery on his hand.
I'm sure Brayden Schenn will piss Evgeni Malkin off tonight as per usual. So it's safe to say, if you have Malkin taking a penalty tonight, you're probably right.
Who will Ryan Reaves fight tonight? I'm intrigued.
The Penguins traded human trashcan Derrick Pouliot to the Vancouver Canucks yesterday for AHL defenseman Andrey Pedan (the defensive Datsyuk) and a 4th round pick in the 2018 draft.
Speaking of defensemen, how long until Justin Schultz (the greatest defenseman to ever play the game) takes Kris Letang's spot on the first power play unit?
What if Greg McKegg scores 8 goals tonight?
We'll be at Milanos tonight before the game. If you're in the area, come say hi and get an autograph from your favorite trash blog.