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Is There Still Some Hope for the Pittsburgh Penguins?

The Pittsburgh Penguins' up-and-down season has many wondering if they do have any chance of reaching the playoffs

By Clyde E. DawkinsPublished 2 months ago 4 min read

When the Pittsburgh Penguins lost Game Seven of their opening round series against the New York Rangers in 2022, I wrote in my recap that the ousting could mark the end of an era in the Steel City. The emphasis was on "could." I didn't say it would be. I didn't think it would be. I still don't, but when the following year happened, and the Penguins actually missed the playoffs, I was stunned. I mean, nothing lasts forever, but still, I didn't think that streak would end so soon. I thought they had about one more appearance left in them.

16 years. That was the streak. It was the longest running streak in pro sports. Playoff hockey in Pittsburgh was the only thing that was certain other than death and taxes. The Penguins ended up eliminated from playoff contention in the final few days of last season, the first time that the team missed the playoffs since the 2005-06 season--which was not only the first season back from the lockout, it was also Sidney Crosby's rookie year.

To figure out the last time the Pens missed out in consecutive seasons, you have to go back a little bit farther. The 2005-06 season was Pittsburgh's fourth straight without playoffs. The 2000-01 season saw the Penguins in the Eastern Conference Final, but they took a huge nose dive after that--a nose dive that ended up getting them Sidney Crosby in 2005.

Regarding this season, it's been too up-and-down for Pittsburgh's liking. This year is the first with Kyle Dubas as their GM after he spent several years with the Maple Leafs. The team acquired Erik Karlsson, who is fresh off his big Norris Trophy winning season with the Sharks, and they basically nailed down that core. The result, sadly, is a barely surviving record with the home stretch closing in. The Penguins should be glad that the Columbus Blue Jackets exist, because they are the only ones holding the Penguins up in the Metropolitan Division.

The Penguins received quite a big blow just under a week ago, as one of their top players, Jake Guentzel, would be sidelined for the next four weeks. This would put Guentzel's return past the trade deadline, which is March 8. There were some rumblings about possibly trading Guentzel, but that's out the window now. Guentzel continues to be a key player for the Pens, even long after those Cup years. At the time of his injuries, Guentzel was second on the team in goals (22), assists (30), and points (52).

Unsurprisingly, Crosby leads the team in goals (31) and points (55), while the assists leader on the team is Karlsson with 32. Karlsson's 39 points also lead Pittsburgh blueliners, a far cry from the season he had last year. Regarding the goaltending, Tristan Jarry is 14-17-4 so far, not a good record. However, he does have six shutouts, which leads the entire league. Alex Nedeljkovic has a 9-4-4 record as the backup, but he is coming off giving up five goals in an overtime loss against the New York Islanders, which is problematic alone--losing in extra time to an Islanders team whose big weakness is playing more than sixty minutes in a game this season.

The Penguins core: Kris Letang (left), Sidney Crosby (center), and Evgeni Malkin (right)

I have to talk about the core: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang. They've been through it all together, and this year is their 19th season together, surpassing the record set by Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, and Mariano Rivera--three-quarters of the New York Yankees' "Core Four." Four Cup Final runs, three Cups won, they have done it all. I mentioned them because before I started on this story, I read that Dubas said that the team needs to go younger. The team needed to go younger a few years ago, yet the core's going to be together until the end of next season at the earliest. It's after next season that Crosby will be a UFA, but he'll stick around--I don't see him retiring after next year. Malkin's tied down until the end of the 2025-26 season, and as for Letang, he has four more years left after this one ends. Something tells me Crosby and Malkin will get mini-extensions when their deals run out; I think the Pens want that trio to retire as Penguins together.

The Penguins are eight points out of a playoff spot at this point. The regular season ends on April 18, less than two months from now. It's not a lot of time, but it's not too little either. In any event, the Penguins need to make a mad dash and pick up some wins, and maybe pick up some key names if they want to make a big push. Here's hoping the Penguins pull it off, pass the teams they need to pass, and finish as one of the NHL's Sweet 16.


About the Creator

Clyde E. Dawkins

I am an avid fan of sports and wrestling, and I've been a fan of female villains since the age of eight. Also into film and TV, especially Simpsons and Family Guy.

Feel free to follow my social media:

Twitter - Facebook - Tiktok - Instagram

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Comments (2)

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  • Babs Iverson2 months ago

    Wonderful review!!! 💕♥️♥️

  • Skyler Saunders2 months ago

    Your thorough analysis of the Penguins and the fluctuations that the team experiences encourages me to follow hockey. With eloquence, calmness, and clarity you deliver the winning shots for all to behold.

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