Tonight the Pens host the San Jose Sharks in what is always one of the most exciting games of the year. No, not because it is against the Sharks, but because it is the annual debut game for Ray Shero's trade acquisitions. We've been down this road for several years now, and few things are as fun, or meaningless, as coming to an immediate conclusion about a trade based solely on a player's first shift on the ice as a Penguin.
I may be in the minority, but I'm just as excited to see how Matt Niskanen fits on the blue-line as I am to see James Neal on the wing. Even with Neal, the Pens are going to be relatively deficient offensively unless and until Crosby comes back. Let's remember, James Neal is not a 50+ goal scorer - his career high is 27. That's a little better than one goal every four games. Yes, it is definitely an improvement over Ryan Craig, but let's not expect former-Ovechkin-level goal production from this guy. And because scoring goals is going to still be a major challenge for the Pens, the team will have to continue to rely on defense and goaltending.