For all 32 forwards, 17 defensemen and six goaltenders reporting to the Penguins' 48th training camp on this 18th of September, the only number that matters to this most starcrossed of franchises is 16, that, of course, being the playoff victory total of the Stanley Cup champion. And make no mistake. For all the Taylor Chorney, Reid McNeill, Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond types taking the ice for the opening session Friday, any roster with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on it will come with nothing less than that expectation.
I loved the way newcomer Christian Ehrhoff put it Thursday, this after a year of fishing pucks out of his own net in Buffalo: "I was with the team that was 30th in the league, and it was no fun. Everybody knows what the Pittsburgh Penguins are, how they're always contending for the Cup. I don't expect that to change."
Nor should he. Or anyone.
I could get into all kinds of reasons why, or I could just cut it off by saying the Rangers were the Eastern Conference rep in the final last spring. They were right there. The Kings were a good bit better. A handful of Western teams undoubtedly were a good bit better. But that New York team was right there. And, as I don't need to remind anyone, the Penguins held New York's spot before sadly, sloppily conceding it.