Penguins rave about new arena

| Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2010

Pardon Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury if he's enduring a few unpleasant flashbacks while studying the nuances of the Penguins' new home, Consol Energy Center.

The boards, Fleury said, are a bit reminiscent of the building that witnessed Fleury's greatest triumph, and some of his more embarrassing moments.

"These boards are pretty bouncy," he said. "Reminds me of Detroit."

The boards aren't that bouncy, of course, but Fleury's initial observations are proof that every building is different and that the Penguins could have an early advantage in their new home. They are busy studying the new rink while the rest of the NHL will be largely left in the dark, save for the three Western Conference teams that will play here in the preseason.

"Absolutely that can be an advantage for us," Penguins winger Pascal Dupuis said. "Even though it's a new building, all these new buildings are different. We are definitely paying attention to things like that and getting to know the place."

And make no mistake, the Penguins are very much in love with the Consol Energy Center.

Even though training camp isn't always a pleasant experience for hockey players — especially the established veterans who would probably just as well begin the regular season now — the roster is unified in acknowledging that Consol Energy Center is simply a pleasant place to attend work.

"It's the best building I've ever seen," Penguins defenseman Paul Martin said. "It's just an incredible place. It seems like every time there is a new arena in hockey, it gets better. And this is no exception."

The Penguins aren't totally comfortable just yet, of course.

Fleury admits that dealing with new boards will take some work, and no one is thrilled with the ice quality during training camp.

"The focus has been on how bad the ice has been," Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik said. "Hopefully it gets better."

The ice figures to get significantly better. Unseasonably warm temperatures this week, a heavy schedule of concerts at Consol Energy Center and more players than usual using the ice have conspired to make the quality of the ice less than ideal.

Assuming the ice does improve, the Penguins will instead focus on exploring everything about their new building. And according to Orpik, fans can play a role in that process starting tonight in the exhibition opener against the Red Wings.

"The atmosphere will be different, and I'm interested to see how loud it gets as opposed to Mellon," Orpik said. "The crowd was always on top of you there. This place has a bit of a different feel. It will be interesting, and I'm definitely looking forward to playing a game here."

The Penguins have noticed all kinds of details, both big and small, about their new home. From the outrageously spacious locker room to the largely glass exterior that almost gives the rink a glow during the day, the environment couldn't be better for training camp and beyond.

"The place just totally blows me away," Dupuis said. "It's unreal. Totally amazing."

And Dupuis suggests that no one should worry about Fleury and those bouncy boards. The fluky goals he allowed during the 2008 and 2009 Stanley Cup Finals are in his rear-view mirror.

And besides, Fleury finally figured out Joe Louis Arena.

This place should be a piece of cake.

"If we see Detroit in the finals this year," Dupuis said, "I promise 'Flower' will be ready for both arenas."

Additional Information:

Home openers

The inaugural home record of teams that have opened new buildings in the past 10 years:

New Jersey , 2007-08: 24-12-2

Phoenix , 2003-04: 12-18-11

Dallas , 2001-02: 17-15-9

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