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Pittsburgh Penguins finish third in USA Today preseason rankings

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Preseason rankings before the preseason, huh?  Shouldn't USA Today's Kevin Allen at least wait for the preseason?  I mean, hey - injuries happen.

And when I say that, I'm looking in the direction of the Detroit Red Wings, who are ranked first overall.

Closely behind in the number-two slot we have the Montreal Canadiens, the only team to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Eastern Conference standings.

They were also eliminated before the Penguins, are relying on the trusty gloves and pads of Carey Price and play host to the 2009 All-Star Game.  That's a lot of pressure, procuring in the wake of high expectations for a disappointing 2008 season.

Here's what Allen says about the Penguins:

I'm not sure I believe Miroslav Satan and Ruslan Fedotenko can make up for the loss of Hossa and Ryan Malone. But I do believe that Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin can be among the scoring leaders even if they had a trained chimpanzee on their wing. The Penguins will be in the Stanley Cup mix as long as Crosby is captain.

USA Today

People keep talking down the addition of Satan and Fedotenko as if they are completely worthless.  It might be true, may be true - but I want to wait through the season to come to that conclusion.  After all, people hardly raised an eyebrow when the Penguins picked up Petr Sykora last year and look how well that one turned out.

As Pensburgh members have said, Crosby and Malkin can awake the sleeping beast in any player.  Heck, put Kris Beech on the lines with the two of them and he'll net at least 20 goals.  But trust me, I'd rather see Fedotenko, Satan or even Clyde Drexler on the wing before Kris Beech.

Last year USA Today ranked the Penguins number one, and even said they'd win the Stanley Cup.  They, like the Penguins, came very close.  Here's to hoping the Allen pick of the year is categorized in the same realm of myth as the dreaded Madden curse.

Fortunately for the Pens, they are at the top of the Atlantic in terms of intradivision rankings.  Only the Devils, seventh on the list, come close.  The Rangers are 10th, Flyers 14th and apparently Allen sees no point in ranking the Islanders (or 14 other teams for that matter).