The Penguins opened training camp today in front a packed house (which offered a standing ovation at one point) at Iceoplex in Southpointe. Due to the lockout, the camp will only last six days as it leads into the Penguins' season opener in Philadelphia Saturday.
Captain Sidney Crosby held court with the media today and talked about the camp, a return to Philadelphia and that tricky power play
Does this feel like a normal first day of training camp?
“A little bit different. Without the fitness tests and the meetings are a little bit shorter. Sort of a condensed version. I don’t think anything is wrong with that. I don’t mind missing the fitness test or the shorter meetings. It’s a smaller group, usually there are two or three teams (of players) practicing, which doesn’t hurt either. Everyone gets to know one another pretty quick. “
After a productive summer and steady workouts during the lockout, what can you get out of this brief training camp?
“Just the game situations. All the systems. All the stuff we do (during informal workouts) is mostly habits and individual skills. But all the systems and positioning and all that stuff, you can only walk through that so much. You have to kind of do it at a high speed against high-level players. That’s what we’re trying to do. Get used to that. “
Are there any changes to the team’s system?
“Not really. Maybe a little tweak here or there but for the most part, it’s pretty similar to what we’re used to. And I think that’s going to help us. Nobody is going to have to learn anything too new or anything that’s kind of foreign so I think that’s kind of a bonus. “
Are you more relaxed going into a season now that you’re healthy?
“Not really. When you have only a week to get ready for a season and a 48-game season, I think you put that much more pressure to prepare that much more. Coming off all that missed time, you have more pressure because you k now you have to adjust quickly. There’s something that’s definitely nice. Not having to worry about getting headaches or rumors or stuff like that. But for the most part, it’s fun to be competing. “
Is the pressure to be an MVP-caliber player any different?
“The pressure I feel most times is the pressure I put on myself. I think that’s always kind of been the case. I’ve always have high expectations and our team has high expectations. I don’t think that ever really changes. “
How excited are you to open the season Saturday against the rival Flyers?
“I’m excited. Is this … nine in a row or eight in a row we’ve played against ‘Philly?’ That’s a lot of hockey against the same team. Both teams knows each other really well. I think it’s just exciting to get out there and compete. When it’s Philadelphia, I don’t think anyone finds it hard to get it up for that one. “
(NOTE: Dating back to the last regular season and postseason, the Penguins have played seven consecutive games against the Flyers. Saturday’s game will be their eighth.)
What were you able to do leading into this season differently now that you’re healthy.
“Just training. I wasn’t able to train for a year. I don’t consider going for a 10-minute run training. When you’re doing activity and hoping you don’t get systems, that’s not really pushing yourself. That’s just having daily activity. There’s a big difference between training and just having physical activity. “
There’s a comfort level in playing with Pascal Dupuis and Chris Kunitz on your wings again?
“Yeah. It’s pretty comfortable with all of us. We know what’s expected and we know the strengths of one another. It’s nice. That’s a bonus with a short camp and no preseason. “
Steve Sullivan has moved on. You’ll need to work in a different player onto the first power play. Can that be done in a week or will that be a work in progress going into the season:
“I think it’s a work in progress. For any (team), you’re going to see a lot of adjustments as time goes on. We definitely have a great mix of guys to rotate or put in different positions. Guys are more than capable of playing different positions if need be. ‘Sully’ did a great job but that something we feel like we’re lucky to have guys to fill that role."
(Photo: Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)