Thousands of Pittsburgh Penguins fans piled into the CONSOL Energy Center to see the Pens face the Detroit Red Wings in Pittsburgh’s first glimpse of hockey since May. Nothing was at stake besides pride and rosters spots. The crowd hoped this preseason opener would be the first step in washing the bitter taste from last season’s disastrous finish, when the New York Rangers overcame a three-game deficit to eliminate the Penguins from the postseason. Prospects hoped to show the front office they belong in the franchise’s plans. Veterans hoped to get into a groove they could carry into the regular season.
Despite the excitement for this exhibition, Detroit center Pavel Datsyuk scored a pair of goals to hand the Pens a 2-1 loss. Pittsburgh suffered the same fate against Columbus the following night, losing 2-0.
Not much credit is given to a strong preseason record, and little concern is formed from a poor one. Considering three of Pittsburgh’s top offensive weapons — Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Chris Kunitz — missed those games with injuries, it makes sense. What does the preseason say of a team’s chances for success in the regular season, though?