Features: Five Questions the Pittsburgh Penguins Must Answer to Raise Another Cup



1. Can Bill Guerin keep up his post-trade play of 2009 through an entire 82-game season?

After Ray Shero saved Guerin from "hockey purgatory" on Long Island, the veteran winger notched 10 points in his first eight games in Vegas Gold. But once that initial rush of playing with Sid wore off, his production seemed to tail. In the final 33 games (including 24 in the playoffs), Guerin rung up just 17 points, despite never leaving the top line and seeing significant time on the first power play unit. And as much as he probably doesn't want to be reminded about, he does turn 39 in November.

2. Can they replace the "shutdown" defensive pair of Rob Scuderi/Hal Gill?

Brooks Orpik's hits may have rattled many a Plexiglas pane over the last four seasons, but it was Rob Scuderi's "silent but deadly" approach that helped keep things clear in front of Marc-Andre Fleury. And while Hal Gill didn't win many races to loose pucks, his presence (and Go-Go-Gadget poke check) will also be missed. The off-season signing of the "defenseman's defenseman," Jay McKee, should help ease those losses, but they do seem to have more offensive-minded blue liners than last year.

3. Will they receive help from "new blood" like Dustin Jeffrey, Luca Caputi, Tim Wallace?

The core of their Stanley Cup-winning roster returns intact, but over the course of 82 games the Pens are sure to have several key players watching games in street clothes from the press box. And remember - they traded away two first-round draft picks to Atlanta in the Marian Hossa deal in '08, so their top-level minor-league depth could be depleted. The aforementioned forwards (Jeffrey, Caputi, Wallace) all saw time with the "big club" last year and might be counted on to actually contribute this season. One name to remember from their minor-league ranks: defenseman Ben Lovejoy.

4. How will they be affected by Max Talbot's early-season absence?

It's too early to tell how many games Mad Max will actually miss, but it would seem to make sense NOT to rush him back for games in October and November when the team is virtually a lock to make the playoffs regardless. One year ago, Talbot's absence would have simply deprived the team of a fourth-line center. But after his apparent chemistry with Evgeni Malkin blossomed during their Cup run, the Pens are now left with a gaping hole on their second line as the season begins.

5. Can they play with a target on their back?

The last time the Penguins defended a Stanley Cup championship in 1992-93, they did so with a roster that many still believe was the most talented in team history. They captured the President's Trophy that season, winning more regular season games than any team in the NHL. But one David Volek overtime goal in their second playoff series ended their visions of a three-peat. The 2008-09 playoff run was one for the ages...can they find that magic two years in a row? It says here there is a good chance.

Craig McConnell is a born-and-bred Pittsburgher. He is a coordinating producer at FSN, where he's worked since 2001. Before joining FSN, Craig worked as a videographer at WSYX-TV in Columbus and WTOV-TV in Steubenville. He lives in Hampton with his wife, Jill, and their two kids, Derek and Leah.

Hot Reads

Review: Sienna Mercato

Review: Sienna Mercato

Matthew Porco, one of our Chefs of the Year, designs the menus at Sienna Mercato's downtown establishments.
An Open Letter to Local Sports Reporters

An Open Letter to Local Sports Reporters

PittGirl has had enough of the criticism of fanatics and asks the media to stop labeling everyone.
Film Noir Fall Fashion

Film Noir Fall Fashion

Fall into autumn with a fashion landscape awash in black, white and nifty shades of gray.
8 Foodie Day Trips (and a Few Weekends, Too)

8 Foodie Day Trips (and a Few Weekends, Too)

Hoping to take a leaf-peeping road trip? Keep food at the top of your priority list and consult our lineup of eight destinations, most within 150 miles of the city.

The 412

It's Cocktail Week in our

It's Cocktail Week in our

Raise a glass to another 'Burgh superlative at these awesome cocktail parties.
Pittsburgh is One of the Most Cycling-Friendly U.S. Cities

Pittsburgh is One of the Most Cycling-Friendly U.S. Cities

Bicycling mag ranks the Steel City at No. 21 on its list of 50 metropolises.
Thrival Festival Rocked Bakery Square 2.0

Thrival Festival Rocked Bakery Square 2.0

Relive the two-day event that was part innovation and part musical brilliance.
Cameras Roll for ‘The Last Witch Hunter’

Cameras Roll for ‘The Last Witch Hunter’

Although shooting has begun for this flick, plan to catch Vin Diesel and Elijah Wood while they’re out on the town, not during film production.

Hot Reads

Review: Sienna Mercato

Review: Sienna Mercato

Matthew Porco, one of our Chefs of the Year, designs the menus at Sienna Mercato's downtown establishments.
Film Noir Fall Fashion

Film Noir Fall Fashion

Fall into autumn with a fashion landscape awash in black, white and nifty shades of gray.
An Open Letter to Local Sports Reporters

An Open Letter to Local Sports Reporters

PittGirl has had enough of the criticism of fanatics and asks the media to stop labeling everyone.
8 Foodie Day Trips (and a Few Weekends, Too)

8 Foodie Day Trips (and a Few Weekends, Too)

Hoping to take a leaf-peeping road trip? Keep food at the top of your priority list and consult our lineup of eight destinations, most within 150 miles of the city.
From Field to Fork

From Field to Fork

We put together this dynamic guide to help you find and engage with the region’s sustainable producers of meat, honey, alcohol, fruits and vegetables.
Sometimes Your Best Friends in Life Aren't on Facebook

Sometimes Your Best Friends in Life Aren't on Facebook

PittGirl wonders if it's still possible to raise kids to be big-hearted people in an age of self-obsession.