Pens’ Dupuis has no doubt he’ll be ready by next season

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While some reflexively blame Sidney Crosby for the Pittsburgh Penguins’ inability to close out the New York Rangers in their second-round series and question any number of other factors, few ask: “What if Pascal Dupuis was in the lineup?” Season-ending surgery cut his 2013-14 campaign short, but the good news is that Dupuis told the team’s website that he’s confident he’ll be ready for the beginning of the 2014-15 season.

In fact, when asked if he’d be ready to start, the 35-year-old winger said he has “no doubt at all” that could happen.

Dupuis’ season-ending procedure happened in February, with a successful surgery prompting an estimated window of recovery at six-to-eight months. He said he’s feeling great about three months into that process.

With that window falling somewhere between August and October, that season-opening goal seems reasonable enough. In fact, he’s not dismissing the possibility of suiting up in training camp, either.

“Obviously it’s a long process, but it’s feeling great,” Dupuis said. “Aiming for six (months). The way it’s feeling right now, it feels great. I’m right on schedule, so it looks good for camp.”

In a way, adding Dupuis back into the mix is almost like acquiring a solid free agent, at least if you’re assessing the Penguins team that lost in the playoffs. Giving Crosby his usual wingers can allow other players to slide into more comfortable spots and possibly improve the team from within.

That doesn’t mean other tweaks aren’t needed, yet it’s an “upgrade” many might overlook.