April 18, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) sits on the bench next to his teammates defenseman Matt Niskanen (2) and defenseman Brooks Orpik (44) during the third period of game four of the 2012 Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the at Wells Fargo Center. The Penguins defeated the Flyers, 10-3. The Flyers lead the series three games to one. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Penguins: How training camp and game schedule could break down

Now that hockey fans everywhere are done celebrating the end of the lockout, it’s time to shift focus to what exactly this shortened season could look like, and not only for the Pittsburgh Penguins, but for every NHL team.

It looks like the NHL season will be 48 games instead of the proposed 50 gamer, which means training camp should be starting this weekend.

April 20, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) defends the net against the Philadelphia Flyers during the third period in game five of the 2012 Eastern Conference quarterfinals at CONSOL Energy Center. The Pens won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Rob Rossi reported that NHL camps will begin Saturday, or Sunday at the latest, with a 48-game season commencing about a week later.

Speaking of training camp, there will be no exhibition games played, which will make some teams decision on roster spots very difficult. But it shouldn’t be too hard for the Penguins, as it looks as if only 24-26 players will be invited to camp.

That brings me to the regular season for this veteran team.

The projected starting date for a 48-game season is January 19 and for the Penguins, that could mean an opening game against the Philadelphia Flyers, as it was rumored last week that the Pens and Flyers would open up the NHL season.

In a 48-game season, the Penguins would play an unbalanced Atlantic Division schedule: with four games against two teams in the division, five games against the other two teams and then three games against each Eastern Conference opponent.

The playoff format will be unchanged.

Rossi noted that there will be a trade deadline, although no official date has been set.

Of course none of this can officially be set into motion until the new CBA is ratified. The NHL board of governors is expected to vote Tuesday and until there is ratification, training camps around the league cannot begin.

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