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Penguins inch toward regular-season opener

| Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2013, 8:30 p.m.
Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma speaks Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz during the first day of training camp at South Point Jan. 13, 2013. Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review

So much for training camp.

After three days of workouts — two of which were particularly rigorous — the Penguins unofficially have ended their training camp.

A scrimmage Wednesday night, an off day Thursday and a routine practice Friday are all that separate the Penguins from the beginning of the regular season Saturday at Philadelphia.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma is satisfied with the work his team turned in during the past few days, and he seemed especially pleased with the fast pace in which the Penguins have operated during a couple of three-hour practices.

“I thought our guys were excellent at that,” Bylsma said.

“I thought the execution at that pace, which a lot of times in training camp goes by the wayside, was very good. We've gotten a lot accomplished.”

Conditioning wasn't expected to be a problem for most of the Penguins, who have either been skating in Europe, the AHL or during informal workouts at Southpointe. Bylsma confirmed that his team is generally in excellent condition.

This training camp has been geared around timing drills and special teams work. Conditioning isn't an issue.

Captain Sidney Crosby applauded the job Bylsma and his staff did during the past two lengthy practices.

“It was good,” he said. “Just a lot of information, refreshing of systems, all the little details that become more habit once you're in the season. Just lots of refreshing. I think it's gone really well.”

Bylsma put players through two sessions during Monday and Tuesday's workouts, which were well attended by fans at Consol Energy Center.

The first session was geared largely toward puck retrieval, breakout and transition drills.

Although there was nothing perfect about the majority of the drills, the coach was pleased with what he witnessed.

Special teams — notably the new power play, which features right wing James Neal playing the left point — dominated the second session during both days of practice.

A shootout competition punctuated each day, much to the pleasure of the fans and goaltenders.

In particular, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury said the informal workouts at Southpointe weren't beneficial for goaltenders looking to refine their angles and overall sharpness.

“I'm starting to feel better,” Fleury said.

With the season only three days away, the crash-course camp is all but over.

“We did get a lot out of these last few days,” defenseman Ben Lovejoy said. “Dan told us it wasn't training camp. These were long practices. It was on us to be in shape, and we did a lot of learning over the past few days. It was a really good thing. I think we all played with a purpose.”

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at jyohe@tribweb.com or via Twitter at @joshyohe_trib.

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