Penguins notebook: Players mixed about opener
Details of the 2013 NHL regular season schedule remain sketchy, as the league continues to work with teams to pinpoint things like arena availability, travel and avoiding as many back-to-back sequences as possible.
The Penguins open Jan. 19 in Philadelphia and, under the latest version of the league schedule, travel to New York to face the Rangers the next night.
The Penguins have asked the league if they can play their second game at home but were awaiting word on possible changes.
Opening at Philadelphia, as one might expect, raised a few eyebrows.
“Obviously, every game is important, especially in a shortened season like this,” defenseman Deryk Engelland said. “But when you see that team on the schedule, it gets your attention.”
Defenseman Matt Niskanen was a bit more precise.
“Oh boy,” he said with a smile. “Guess I should start working out with the heavy bag.”
There is no love lost between the Penguins and Flyers. The Penguins entered last postseason as the favorite to raise the Stanley Cup, only to be embarrassed by their biggest rival in the first round. Philadelphia scored 30 goals in six games.
Some Penguins relish the opportunity to face the Flyers on the road in the opener.
“I'm looking forward to it,” Engelland said. “I mean, we're going to play a ton of division games because of this schedule anyway. Why not get a test nice and early? It should be fun.”
Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury didn't have much fun in the series against the Flyers.
“I don't know,” he said. “I wouldn't mind having a couple of games on the schedule to get ready for this one. But oh well.”
Gibson heads west
Whitehall native John Gibson, who recently guided Team USA to the World Junior Championship in Russia with stellar work in goal, will head to Anaheim's training camp.
He played with the Kitchener Rangers in the Ontario Hockey League until traveling to Russia for the international competition that saw him stifle Canada and Sweden in the final two games, earning him tournament MVP honors.
Anaheim drafted Gibson in the second round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
Back to Southpointe
The Penguins will return to Southpointe for informal workouts Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Like their sessions next week at Consol Energy Center, the workouts are open to the public at no charge.
Seventeen Penguins worked out Thursday at Consol Energy Center. Center Evgeni Malkin and defenseman Kris Letang are expected back this weekend in Pittsburgh.