Cumberland Times-News

Local Sports

January 18, 2013

Penguins hoping a little defense goes a long way

(Continued)

 
And that’s what happened during the regular season. The playoffs, however, were another matter.
 
Pittsburgh led in each of the first three games against the Flyers, and lost all three. The Penguins showed grit in extending things to six games, but by the end, they were out of gas.
 
The four-month NHL lockout only added to the misery. And the Penguins begin the 2013 season where the 2012 season ended on Saturday when they face the Flyers in Philadelphia.
 
“I’m looking forward to getting back with those guys,” Fleury said.
 
He’s not the only one. The Penguins are considered an early Stanley Cup favorite, with their combination of experience and explosiveness figuring to be a huge advantage in a truncated regular season.
 
Having two of the best players on the planet healthy and in their prime helps too. Malkin is coming off a career year in which he led the NHL with 109 points while Crosby is nearly a year removed from his latest bout with concussion-like symptoms. The 25-year-old superstar also has the peace of mind that comes from signing a 12-year contract extension that will keep him in Pittsburgh until he’s nearly middle age.
 
Yet that sense of security doesn’t mean there’s also a lack of urgency. He spent the better part of two years away from the game. It’s time to get going.
 
“We’ve got high expectations,” Crosby said. “That’s the way it’s always going to be with our team and that’s the way we want it to be.”
 
Follow Will Graves at www.twitter.com/WillGravesAP
 

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