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How valuable is the preseason? - 09-26-12

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

The Penguins were scheduled to host the Red Wings at Consol Energy Center for their first preseason game of the 2012-13 campaign. But due to the lockout, all preseason games through the end of September have been canceled.

On the surface, preseason contests are pretty dull affairs. The intensity isn't quite the same as the regular season and often times, teams will play a mish-mash lineup of NHLers, AHLers and junior leaguers. Some teams, such as the Penguins, give away tickets to these games for free. Very few games are even televised.

But just because there isn't much entertainment in these games, that doesn't mean they're not valuable to those who participate in them.

How much do you benefit from playing in preseason games?

Sidney Crosby (above), center - "A lot. You have usually four or five games you play in. I’m sure whatever gets decided (with a new collective bargaining agreement), they’ll probably have a scaled down version of that."

Pascal Dupuis (right), right wing - "In preseason games, you get in game shape obviously. The timing of it. You get into game mode. It’s different that just going stick-on-puck (in practice). You actually play the puck. You play for something. You will get hit eventually."

Joe Vitale, center - "To me, they’re huge. For me last year, making the team came down to those preseason games. I found them very valuable, especially last year. You get your legs in you. The speed of the game isn’t the same in practice, but I think just getting hit. Those bumps and bruises takes way more out of you when you get hit. Just that game speed."

Kris Letang, defenseman - "They’re really important. You can’t start a (regular) season without playing some games. Practice is fine but there’s nothing like a game situation. There’s so many things happening out there. You have to put yourself into the game."

Craig Adams, right wing - "It’s a different situation for everybody. I think they’re important to a certain extent to shake the rust off and to get back into game mode. But if we don’t play them and just get in our full 82 regular season games, I think everybody with be happy with that."

You can't replicate the physical intensity in practice that you get out of preseason games?

Matt Cooke (right), left wing - "I think anybody gets timing. It’s a full-out (speed), but especially for a guy like me who is going to play physical, you don’t like to do that against your own team. Inter-squad scrimmages, you don’t really get a chance to hit 100 percent. That’s preseason. That’s what you use that for."

Crosby - "It’s way different. You try to push each other as much as we can but that being said, it’s not the same as playing a different team and trying to prepare for the season. You try to be physical and get good habits and things like that. You try to do that to a certain extent here, but at the end of the day, these are your teammates and you just can’t get that same effect."

Vitale - "Guys are competitive out here but obviously you don’t want to hurt your teammates. Playing a different team, the competition is higher."

Do established players value preseason games differently than someone fighting to make a roster?

Crosby - "I think someone who has played a little bit probably has specific things they know. They just get those things sharp. I think for someone younger, it’s more the speed. You want to experience the speed of the game and playing with bigger, stronger guys. It might be a little bit more difficult with a shorter preseason."

Dupuis - "You have to be in game-shape. Young guys have to prove themselves. At the same time, veterans have to prove that we came in game shame and we’re ready to roll."

Vitale - "It’s huge. Camp is where you come in and show the organization you had a great summer of training and hopefully you get an opportunity to play in a preseason game. That’s pretty much your shot right there. They’re extremely valuable."

Letang (right) - "It doesn’t matter. I think a young guy will get used to the pace and for myself, it’s getting back into it. Getting the timing of the game. They’re really important."

(Photos: Crosby-Nick Laham/Getty Images; Dupuis-Claus Andersen/Getty Images; Cooke-Harry How/Getty Images; Letang-Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

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