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Old 09-16-2011, 08:31 AM   #1
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Default Penguins 2011 Training Camp Outlook

Penguins 2011 Training Camp Outlook
Friday, 09.16.2011 / 6:00 AM / Features
Pittsburgh Penguins

Every NHL season has a story.

Every year fills the fans’ hearts with a smorgasbord of emotions: highs and lows; triumphs and failures; successes and pains; and everything in between.

Every story is unique, equipped with a different cast of characters and all new exciting plot twists.

The Penguins’ 2011-12 season story has yet to be written. But as 55 players descend upon CONSOL Energy Center Friday morning to report for training camp, there is a prologue.

Sidney Crosby’s status entering camp remains uncertain, due to the concussion he suffered in early January. He said it is “likely” that he will play this season, but no one knows when that will occur. The team has made one thing certain, Crosby will not return until he is fully healthy and ready.

Evgeni Malkin hasn’t played a game since Feb. 4 after tearing ligaments in his right knee. However, Malkin has undergone an intensive rehab and conditioning program over the summer. The Russian talent enters training camp with renewed energy and commitment.

Jordan Staal will lace up his skates for the team’s first practice on Saturday. That’s something the 23-year-old center couldn’t do last year as he recovered from an infection in his foot. Coupled with a broken with a broken hand, he missed the first 39 games of the season. But this year, Staal is fully healed and ready to get started.

Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is looking to build on his NHL MVP-caliber season in 2010-11. With the team’s top three stars missing a combined 119 games (Crosby, 41 games; Malkin, 39; Staal, 39), Fleury shouldered the heavy burden and carried the team for half the year. “Flower” finished the season with a 36-20-5 record, 2.32 goals-against average and .918 save percentage en route to being named team MVP.

The Penguins roster underwent some changes over the summer with the departures of Max Talbot, Mike Rupp, Chris Conner, Mike Comrie, Eric Godard and Alex Kovalev and the acquisitions of Steve Sullivan, Alexandre Picard, Steve MacIntyre, Jason Williams and Richard Park.

With the Penguins new additions and burgeoning young prospects, the team is stacked with depth at forward and defense. Competition should be pretty fierce for the next few weeks of camp. Fifty-five players will be fighting for 23 spots and the right to wear the Penguins sweater when the team opens the regular season at defending Western Conference champion Vancouver Oct. 6.

There are many questions entering this season. And the answers will come as the year unfolds and the pages turn.

Training camp is the first chapter of the Penguins’ 2011-12 season. Currently this season is a blank page. It is up to the Penguins to write the story. The pen is in their hands.

The time has come to make the first blemish on the empty pages.

The www.PittsburghPenguins.com staff has provided a more in-depth look at the top storylines heading into this year's camp. Click on any of the bullet points below to be taken to that specific storyline, or simply scroll down to read them all.
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