CROSBY, PENGUINS EAGER TO OPEN SEASON THURSDAY
The Pittsburgh Penguins open the regular season Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Mellon Arena against the Philadelphia Flyers.
All fans in attendance are asked to be in their seats at 7:25 p.m. for a special pre-game ceremony. The gates at Mellon Arena will open at 6 p.m. - a half hour earlier than usual.
Tickets are available for the contest. To secure your seats, call (412) 642-PENS or 1-800-642-PENS or visit pittsburghpenguins.com. Fans may also purchase tickets directly at the Mellon Arena Gate One box office.
The Penguins are eager to take the ice to start the season.
"Definitely. It's going to be pretty fun to get started," said Marc-Andre Fleury, who will mark the start in goal for the Penguins. "Playing the Flyers is always a big challenge and a good rivalry. I think it'll be a good game.
"Last year we had an amazing crowd even though we didn't do so well. Hopefully, it will be the same thing this year. It's much more fun when you have a big crowd behind you."
Colby Armstrong knows the atmosphere will be electric when the Penguins hit the ice.
"I think everyone is anxious to get started. We had a good crowd out for a couple of the exhibition games. I think the energy will be there again to start the season," he said. "Everyone is excited for that and we're just getting ready to get going here."
The fact that the Penguins are battling their cross-state rivals only adds to the atmosphere, according to Armstrong.
"Talking to some of the fans about the rivalry, I know they are always excited when we play games against a good rival like the Flyers," he said. "To start the season like that, there should be good energy - if you can't get up for opening night against the Flyers, there's something wrong. We should be ready."
The contest will mark the NHL debut for Jordan Staal, the second-overall pick in this year's NHL Entry Draft.
"I am really excited to be here and be able to play. I will be a little nervous, I am sure, but hopefully, I can just keep that in the back of my mind and play my best hockey," he said. "Everyone will be pumped for the first game. Just to have 15,000 people behind you, it will be pretty exciting. Hopefully, I can get the jitters out nice and early."
It will be the first taste of the Penguins-Flyers rivalry for Staal, as well as Penguins rookie defenseman Kris Letang.
"Yeah, I have heard the rivalry goes pretty far back," Staal said. "It should be an exciting game and I am sure the fans will be into it. Hopefully, we can show them what we've got."
Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik will miss the opener with a broken bone in his hand and rookie Evgeni Malkin remains out with a shoulder injury. Nevertheless, the team will open with a roster featuring forwards Sidney Crosby, Nils Ekman, John LeClair, Ryan Malone, Dominic Moore, Michel Ouellet, Mark Recchi, Andre Roy, Jarkko Ruutu, Karl Stewart, Chris Thorburn, Armstrong and Staal; defensemen Mark Eaton, Sergei Gonchar, Josef Melichar, Rob Scuderi, Ryan Whitney and Letang and goaltenders Jocelyn Thibailt and Fleury.
FSN Pittsburgh will televise the contest at 7:30 p.m., while 105.9 The X will start its radio broadcast with a pregame show at 7 p.m. The broadcast may be found live through streaming audio on pittsburghpenguins.com as well. Tune in for Penguins Hotline following every game on 105.9 The X and the Penguins Radio Network. Join in the conversation with host Bob Grove by calling the Penn Telecom toll-free line at 1-866-922-2874.