Eric Majeski's (aka Netwolf) Camp Reports for LetsGoPens.com
Camp 2007 Preview
September 13, 2007
Nothing real fancy, just some updated camp tips and a few questions, just to get back in the swing of things and make sure RJs report entry doohickey still works. =)
Some Tips for the Iceoplex Part of Camp
Dress warm. The rink has been kept very cold in past years, and was pretty chilly when I stopped by earlier today. Considering the benches are metal, it would also be a good idea to take a newspaper, blanket or cushion to sit on.
Get there early. A sign inside the rink puts capacity a shade over 1000. You can also watch from parts of Jay's Restaurant, but some of those tables are usually reserved for team management.
If you are planning to take pictures, and you want some action shots, here's a tip I got a couple of years ago from a newspaper photographer: Sit at the top. The glass is marked up pretty bad. Add that to the lighting in the rink and you get a tough place to shoot hockey photos. Sitting at the top and zooming in allows you to take the glass out of the equation. Now, if you're looking to get some close-ups when the players are waiting in line for a drill, sitting closer shouldn't be a problem although I remember a couple of marks that could still get in your way.
Keep your eyes open. While most of the players stay on the lower level and exit out of the side by Jay's Restaurant, a few will wander upstairs from time to time. You might also bump into Mike Lange, Paul Steigerwald, or other members of the media or even the Pens front offices. I got a chance to talk to Tom McMillan once.
There is usually a half hour break between sessions while they resurface the ice. There is a refreshment stand just outside the rink and Jay's overlooks the rink. (Incidentally, Jay's has a pretty good Primanti's style steak sandwich.) If you want more choices though, Canonsburg is only a few minutes up the road. Make a left out of the parking lot and turn right at the stop sign at the end of Southpointe Boulevard. Follow that for a minute or two and you'll see a Wendy's on your right. The McDonald's is currently closed (it's being rebuilt from the ground up), but there's also a Quiznos, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and KFC there. Just past all of those and on the right is KoSports, one of the best hockey shops in the area. It's pretty small, but they have more gear in there than you think. If you make a left at the light by KoSports and drive over the hill, you'll find a Sheetz. They have all the normal convenience store food, and you can't go wrong with MTO menu.
Who will be the join Crosby, Malkin, and Sykora in the top 6? Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Petr Sykora are obviously the teams best scoring forwards. Who steps up and joins them to complete the top two lines? Jordan Staal would figure to be a near lock after his impressive rookie season. Erik Christensen merits consideration, but in the past, he's always been better at his natural position of center than at wing. Is this the year Ryan Malone puts it all together and becomes a consistent option? Does Mark Recchi have enough in the tank to get top line duty, at least at even strength? Could Jonathan Filewich, Angelo Esposito, or another less heralded prospect earn a job? Can Adam Hall earn a contract and a top 6 job?
How does the defense corps come together? The top two pairings appear to be set, assuming coach Michel Therrien keeps Sergei Gonchar with Mark Eaton and Ryan Whitney with Brooks Orpik. Will we see the pre-injury Eaton, or the one who struggled as the season went on? Will this be the year Orpik earns the coaching staff's trust and makes big steps toward becoming the player they've always envisioned? The bottom pair figures to be Darryl Sydor and Kris Letang. Sydor should help Letang minimize the rough patches that are to be expected from a young defenseman. If Letang falters, Rob Scuderi, Alain Nasreddine, and Mike Weaver are waiting in the wings.
How will the young core respond to increased expectations? Malkin, Staal, Whitney, and Marc Andre Fleury were all big parts of the team's success last season, but that came with no expectations and no pressure. This year, people will be looking for more. Can they duplicate that or build upon it with the increased pressure?
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