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Will the Pittsburgh Penguins' Playoff "Drought" End in 2024-25?

The Pittsburgh Penguins have missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons for the first time in nearly two decades

By Clyde E. DawkinsPublished 5 days ago 4 min read

I know that it's been literally two weeks since the Stanley Cup was awarded. However, while watching a MLB game between the New York Mets and the Pittsburgh Pirates, I saw a kid in a Pittsburgh Penguins t-shirt. That moment had me thinking about the Penguins and, more notably, their recent struggles as of late.

Now, I am fully aware that nothing lasts forever. The Penguins had a long playoff streak: 16 years, starting with the 2006-07 season, which was Sidney Crosby's second season. During that stretch, the Penguins reached the Stanley Cup Final four times, and won three of them--including the back-to-back Cups in 2016 and 2017. Since then, however, they won one playoff series, and the perceived beginning of the end began with that 2019 postseason, which actually saw them swept out of Round 1 by the New York Islanders.

Though, many would actually say that the Penguins' decline actually began in the 2020 bubble, which saw the Penguins in the Qualifying Round after finishing just barely behind the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference Standings. The Pens faced off against the 12th-seeded Montréal Canadiens in the best-of-five series, and in a stunner, the Habs (a .500 team) defeated the Penguins in four games. In 2021, the Penguins were again defeated by the Islanders (this time in six games), and 2022 saw the Penguins with a 3-1 series lead over the New York Rangers, only to lose the next three games, with Game Seven being an overtime loss.

As I said before, nothing lasts forever. However, I was not prepared for that streak to end. The NHL is not a league known for having constants, but I always said that there were three things that were certain: death, taxes, and playoff hockey in Pittsburgh. The Penguins struggled in the 2022-23 season, but I figured that they would finagle their way into the playoffs like they always do. That's what Pittsburgh does in sports. No matter what how tough it seems to be, Pittsburgh teams always find a way, whether it's the Pirates, Steelers, or Penguins.

And then, they lost their penultimate game of the season...to the Blackhawks.

They needed that game to stay alive in the playoff race, but with the 5-2 loss, the Penguins could be eliminated if the Islanders get one more point on the next day. The Islanders, on the following day, won their game 4-2 over the Canadiens. The Islanders made the playoffs. The Penguins, for the first time since Sidney Crosby's rookie year, didn't. In another story, I mentioned how shocked I was when the Capitals actually beat the Penguins in the playoffs in 2018. However, this elimination tops that big time. I still can't believe it.

I entered this past season thinking that this would be a one-off. Yeah, the streak was over, but the Penguins would claw back into the playoffs--they always do. Yes, the core's aging. They could still do a few things. They'll be back in. It looked like they would be in, but Washington's win over the Philadelphia Flyers ended those aspirations. Back-to-back seasons without playoffs for the first time since they went four seasons without playoffs between 2002 and 2006.

This man needs no introduction

So yes, the Penguins have a playoff drought, though, do not say that in Buffalo if you want to make it out of there in one piece. We all know who this man is. Sidney Crosby, my favorite non-Avalanche player. Though, that last half of that sentence might change. I don't know why, but one story's actually suggesting that Sid may need to get out of Pittsburgh. Avalanche fans are salivating over the thought of seeing Crosby and his buddy, Nathan MacKinnon, playing together in Denver. I'm not holding my breath. Crosby's not leaving Pittsburgh, nor should he. The man has a hell of a legacy in Pittsburgh, similar to Mario Lemieux. And he will retire as a Penguin, in a matter of years--he's about to sign a new deal with the Penguins.

Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang form that Penguins core that has been together for nearly two decades. They managed to play all 82 games together, which is a rarity. Crosby and Malkin were the top two points leaders for the team this past season, and while Erik Karlsson was the top defenseman, Letang did manage to have quite a decent season for himself. In net, Tristan Jarry had six shutouts, but his record was not a good one: 19-25-5. Both he and Alex Nedeljkovic finished with GAAs that were almost at 3.00, and that's quite a glaring negative.

If there's one other glaring attribute looming over the Penguins' heads, it's that they're too old. The Penguins are the oldest team in the NHL, they have an average player age of almost thirty! Now, if it was 25 years ago, a team with that much age and treachery could become a dynasty. However, today's NHL is a young man's game. Despite having a lot of players who are long in the tooth, the last two seasons have seen the Penguins come very, very close to being part of the NHL's Sweet 16. So will the Penguins end their brief drought in 2024-25? Honestly, all signs point to "yes." I can see the Penguins making the playoffs next season. It'll be difficult, but Pittsburgh is a scratch and claw sports city, and has been for decades.

hockey

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 (1)

  • Philip Gipson5 days ago

    This is an absolutely clever article you've written here.

Clyde E. DawkinsWritten by Clyde E. Dawkins

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