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Penguins' mettle will get tested out of gates

Penguins/NHL Videos

By Tricia Lafferty
Thursday, July 16, 2009
 

In with the old and out with the new.

A brand new Stanley Cup champions banner will be raised to the very old Mellon Arena rafters during the Penguins' Oct. 2 season opener against the New York Rangers.

Since the NHL released the regular-season schedule Wednesday, the planning has begun for the Penguins' opening-night ceremonies. Team vice president of communications Tom McMillan said other than the date, no other details have been finalized.

It could be a night filled with mixed emotions as the Penguins and their fans celebrate their third Stanley Cup victory and cherish the final season-opener at Mellon Arena.

The Penguins will play in the under-construction Consol Energy Center across the street, starting in 2010-2011 season.

"It's really special to be able to raise a Stanley Cup banner on the final opening night," McMillan said. "That makes it very special. Throughout the year, people might be thinking of great moments that happened in that building, but at the same time, we are all tremendously excited about the new building.

"It's a symbolic start of next season looking into a lot of those things."

The conference and division championship banners also will be on display along with a scoring title banner, which will include center Evgeni Malkin's accomplishment from this past season.

They'll hang from the 48-year-old building until at least April 8, when the Penguins will play their last regular-season game -- against the New York Islanders -- at Mellon Arena.

Mellon Arena's life span will be extended, of course, if the Penguins make the playoffs. First, though, they'll will have to tread through a regular-season schedule, which includes four road swings of four or more games. The Penguins will endure a road swing early when they go to Philadelphia for the fourth game of the season then head to Toronto, Ottawa and Carolina. In mid-January, they'll hop through five cities in eight days.

The Penguins' toughest slate of games will, arguably, stretch from March 11-24. In those 14 days, the Penguins will play seven of eight games on the road. They'll see Atlantic Division opponent New Jersey Devils twice, Eastern Conference foe Carolina twice, Tampa Bay, Boston, Detroit and Washington.

The Penguins will return home Mar. 27 for a late-season showdown with the Flyers, which marks their first game of a six-game homestand at the tailend of the season.

The mid-season break this year will come in mid-February when the NHL pauses for the Olympic Games. The Olympics will take the place of the All-Star Game and break this season giving the Penguins, who are not selected to a team, some time off from Feb. 15 to March 1.

Considering the Penguins' long season in 2008-09, they'll need the break.

That banner-raising ceremony less than four months after the Penguins captured the Stanley Cup, though, will certainly be an adrenaline booster to start the season.

• The Penguins will again cap full season ticket equivalents at 14,000 for the upcoming season in the 16,940-capacity Mellon Arena.

The Penguins, who have sold out 118 straight games, have began limiting the sales of full-season tickets in 2007-08 to make tickets available for fans to purchase mini-plans and individual game tickets. Those extra tickets will go on sale in September

"We have renewed our season tickets at 98 percent, which is phenomenal in this economy, and we are currently making a limited number of season tickets available to fans at the top of our season ticket waiting list," team president David Morehouse said, in a news release. "The energy and excitement about Penguins hockey this summer is incredible."

The Penguins also will continue to offer popular "Student Rush" promotions to local college and high school students during the season.

• The NHL and NBC Sports announced Wednesday that they have extended their revenue-sharing partnership through the 2010-11 season. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the NHL and NBC "are building an audience, are building momentum and are perfectly positioned to continue growing the game."

Some of NBC's accomplishments from this past season include broadcasting the most-watched regular season game in 34 years (2009 Winter Classic) and the most-viewed NHL game overall in 36 years (Game 7 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Final).

• The NHL announced yesterday that the Philadelphia Flyers will play the Boston Bruins at 1 p.m. at Fenway Park - the home of the Boston Red Sox - for the league's annual outdoor game on New Year's Day.

Upon closer inspection

Toughest stretch: From March 7-27, the Penguins will play 10 games -- against Boston, Carolina, New Jersey, Tampa Bay, New Jersey (again), Boston (again), Carolina (again), Detroit, Washington and Philadelphia -- including seven on the road and three pairs of games on back-to-back nights. All but one of those opponents -- the Lightning -- made the playoffs last season.

Intriguing games: The Penguins will first meet the Flyers and newly acquired defenseman Chris Pronger in Philadelphia on Oct. 8. The Flyers, who were eliminated by the Penguins the past two postseasons, will visit Mellon Arena on Dec. 15, Jan. 7 and March 27.

The Alex Ovechkin-Sidney Crosby rivalry will reignite Jan. 21 when the Washington Capitals, who were eliminated by the Penguins in an epic seven-game Eastern Conference semifinal, venture to Pittsburgh. The teams will also meet Feb. 7 and March 24 in Washington and again in Pittsburgh on April 6.

The Penguins will face the Stanley Cup runner-up Red Wings on Jan. 31 at Mellon Arena and March 22 in Detroit. Marian Hossa won't be there, but you can be sure he'll be taunted Dec. 5 when the Chicago Blackhawks, who he signed with this offseason as a free agent, come to town.

On the road: The Penguins are sent packing -- to Philadelphia, Toronto, Ottawa and Carolina -- early from Oct. 8-15. Then they'll swing to the West Coast on Nov. 3 before stopping in Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose and conclude the trip in Boston on Nov. 10.

Home sweet home: From Oct. 17-28, the Penguins can camp out at Mellon Arena for a five-game homestand. They'll play five of six at home from early to mid-December. The longest homestand, six games in the final two weeks of the season, could be the most critical. The Penguins' 6-1-1 homestand in late March last season pushed them into the playoffs.

Look who's back: Former Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi will face his old teammates for the first time Nov. 5, when the Penguins play the Kings in Los Angeles.

Hal Gill will return to Mellon Arena for the first time Oct. 28 having traded in his black and gold for Montreal red and blue.

Quick turnaround: The Penguins will play on back-to-back nights, including the first two and last two games on the schedule, 10 times this season. Seven of those one-two punches will require travel in between games. The Penguins were 4-6 on the back end of games which they played on back-to-back nights last season.

Deja vu?: The Penguins will play Boston twice in five days, the Rangers in back-to-back games, the Flyers in back-to-back contests, the Devils twice in three games, and the Islanders in two of the final three games of the regular season.

Additional Information:

Upon closer inspection

Toughest stretch: From March 7-27, the Penguins will play 10 games -- against Boston, Carolina, New Jersey, Tampa Bay, New Jersey (again), Boston (again), Carolina (again), Detroit, Washington and Philadelphia -- including seven on the road and three pairs of games on back-to-back nights. All but one of those opponents -- the Lightning -- made the playoffs last season.

Intriguing games: The Penguins will first meet the Flyers and newly acquired defenseman Chris Pronger in Philadelphia on Oct. 8. The Flyers, who were eliminated by the Penguins the past two postseasons, will visit Mellon Arena on Dec. 15, Jan. 7 and March 27.

The Alex Ovechkin-Sidney Crosby rivalry will reignite Jan. 21 when the Washington Capitals, who were eliminated by the Penguins in an epic seven-game Eastern Conference semifinal, venture to Pittsburgh. The teams will also meet Feb. 7 and March 24 in Washington and again in Pittsburgh on April 6.

The Penguins will face the Stanley Cup runner-up Red Wings on Jan. 31 at Mellon Arena and March 22 in Detroit. Marian Hossa won't be there, but you can be sure he'll be taunted Dec. 5 when the Chicago Blackhawks, who he signed with this offseason as a free agent, come to town.

On the road: The Penguins are sent packing -- to Philadelphia, Toronto, Ottawa and Carolina -- early from Oct. 8-15. Then they'll swing to the West Coast on Nov. 3 before stopping in Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose and conclude the trip in Boston on Nov. 10.

Home sweet home: From Oct. 17-28, the Penguins can camp out at Mellon Arena for a five-game homestand. They'll play five of six at home from early to mid-December. The longest homestand, six games in the final two weeks of the season, could be the most critical. The Penguins' 6-1-1 homestand in late March last season pushed them into the playoffs.

Look who's back: Former Penguins defenseman Rob Scuderi will face his old teammates for the first time Nov. 5, when the Penguins play the Kings in Los Angeles.

Hal Gill will return to Mellon Arena for the first time Oct. 28 having traded in his black and gold for Montreal red and blue.

Quick turnaround: The Penguins will play on back-to-back nights, including the first two and last two games on the schedule, 10 times this season. Seven of those one-two punches will require travel in between games. The Penguins were 4-6 on the back end of games which they played on back-to-back nights last season.

Deja vu?: The Penguins will play Boston twice in five days, the Rangers in back-to-back games, the Flyers in back-to-back contests, the Devils twice in three games, and the Islanders in two of the final three games of the regular season.

 

 
 


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