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Penguins eliminated from playoff contention, 16-year postseason run ends

Lack of secondary scoring, up-and-down play has Pittsburgh out for first time since 2006

https://www.nhl.com/news/pittsburgh-penguins-eliminated-from-playoff-contention-ending-streak/c-343457926

 

 

The Pittsburgh Penguins failed to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2006, ending a 16-year postseason run, which was the longest streak in the NHL.

 

The Penguins (40-31-10) were eliminated from contention when the New York Islanders defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-2 on Wednesday.

 

It's the first time since Sidney Crosby's rookie season that the Penguins did not make the playoffs. It's the first time center Evgeni Malkin and defenseman Kris Letang have missed.

 

Pittsburgh played 190 playoff games and won 103 from 2007-22, the most in the NHL in each statistical category. The Penguins reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2008, and won the Stanley Cup in 2009, 2016 and 2017.

 

Here is a look at what happened in the 2022-23 season for the Penguins and why things could be better next season.

 

The skinny

 

Potential unrestricted free agents: Tristan Jarry, G; Dmitry Kulikov, D; Brian Dumoulin, D; Nick Bonino, F; Josh Archibald, F; Jason Zucker, F; Danton Heinen, F

Potential restricted free agents: Ryan Poehling, F; Alex Nylander, F; Drew O'Connor, F

Potential 2023 Draft picks: 6

 

What went wrong

 

Lack of secondary scoring: The Penguins' top six forwards -- Jake Guentzel (35 goals), Crosby (33), Rickard Rakell (28), Malkin (27), Zucker (27) and Bryan Rust (20) -- have accounted for 66 percent of the team's total goals (170 of 259). The only other two players in double digits in goals are Jeff Carter (13) and Letang (11). None of Pittsburgh's defensemen have at least 40 points (Letang has 39 in 63 games). Entering Wednesday, the Penguins were 28th in goals from defensemen (29) and 23rd in points from defensemen (162).

 

Deadline deals didn't work: The Penguins acquired forward Mikael Granlund from the Nashville Predators on March 1, and then acquired Bonino from the San Jose Sharks and Kulikov from the Anaheim Ducks on March 3 before the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline. They have received a total of one goal, five assists and 28 games played from those three players. Granlund, acquired for his versatility and ability to add secondary scoring, has five points (one goal, four assists) in 20 games. Bonino was acquired for his ability to center a bottom-six line, kill penalties and provide some offense. He has played in three games with zero points. He has missed 17 straight with a lacerated kidney. Kulikov played in four games, had one assist, and then missed 14 straight because of a lower-body injury.

 

Too many ups and downs: The Penguins have run hot and cold all season, with four spurts of solid, winning hockey and four that featured inconsistent, mostly losing hockey. They were 4-0-1 in their first five games, but 0-6-1 in their next seven. They followed that with their longest sustained hot streak, going 15-3-2 from Nov. 9-Dec. 20. But then it was 2-6-2 in the next 10, followed by a run of 6-2-3 in 11. Then came a four-game losing streak, all in regulation, from Feb. 17-23. But optimism picked up again in advance of the deadline, when the Penguins went 7-1-1 from Feb. 25-March 12. They went back to the inconsistent stuff and are 6-9-0 in their past 15 games, including a crushing 5-2 loss at home to the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday. It doesn't help that they lead the NHL with nine losses in games when they have the lead going into the third period (four in regulation, five in overtime/shootout). And, on top of it, the Penguins got inconsistent goaltending. Tristan Jarry had a .909 save percentage; seven of the eight teams that made the playoffs in the East had a goalie with at least .910 or better (Florida is the exception). The Penguins allow 3.21 goals per game, which is 19th in the League.

 

Reasons for optimism

 

87, 71 and 58: The Penguins still have Crosby (No. 87), Malkin (No. 71) and Letang (No. 58) and as long as they do, and those three are still playing well, they will have a chance. Nobody can pin the blame on Crosby, Malkin and Letang for the Penguins missing the playoffs this season. Crosby leads the Penguins with 91 points in 81 games. Malkin is second with 83 points in 81 games. Letang, despite missing 18 games because of injury, has 39 points in 63 games. They're still getting it done, and as long as they do the Penguins will be in the hunt for a playoff spot.

 

Changes should be coming: The one thing missing the playoffs will do for the Penguins is force some hard decisions on people who have made significant contributions to the success of the team in the past decade. What is the future of coach Mike Sullivan, the Penguins' all-time leader in wins (337) and two-time Stanley Cup championship coach? Will the Penguins re-sign defenseman Brian Dumoulin, who helped them win the Stanley Cup in 2016 and 2017. Will there be a new No. 1 goalie with Jarry ticketed for unrestricted free agency if the Penguins let him get there? Change is coming. How much and how significant remain to be seen. But change could bring a new energy to the Penguins.

 

The draft will matter: Unless they trade the pick, the Penguins will be selecting in the top 16 of the first round in the 2023 NHL Draft. Their draft lottery odds will be low, so it's unlikely predicted top picks Connor Bedard or Adam Fantilli are going to make their way to Pittsburgh to be what Crosby and Mario Lemieux have been for the franchise. But the Penguins have not picked in the top 20 of the draft since 2012, when they went No. 12 and took defenseman Derrick Pouliot. The Penguins have gotten 13 games out of their 36 draft picks since 2016. It has to get better than that.

Edited by NHL HHOF
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5 hours ago, NHL HHOF said:

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Penguins eliminated from playoff contention, 16-year postseason run ends

Lack of secondary scoring, up-and-down play has Pittsburgh out for first time since 2006

https://www.nhl.com/news/pittsburgh-penguins-eliminated-from-playoff-contention-ending-streak/c-343457926

 

 

The Pittsburgh Penguins failed to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2006, ending a 16-year postseason run, which was the longest streak in the NHL.

 

The Penguins (40-31-10) were eliminated from contention when the New York Islanders defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-2 on Wednesday.

 

It's the first time since Sidney Crosby's rookie season that the Penguins did not make the playoffs. It's the first time center Evgeni Malkin and defenseman Kris Letang have missed.

 

Pittsburgh played 190 playoff games and won 103 from 2007-22, the most in the NHL in each statistical category. The Penguins reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2008, and won the Stanley Cup in 2009, 2016 and 2017.

 

Here is a look at what happened in the 2022-23 season for the Penguins and why things could be better next season.

 

The skinny

 

Potential unrestricted free agents: Tristan Jarry, G; Dmitry Kulikov, D; Brian Dumoulin, D; Nick Bonino, F; Josh Archibald, F; Jason Zucker, F; Danton Heinen, F

Potential restricted free agents: Ryan Poehling, F; Alex Nylander, F; Drew O'Connor, F

Potential 2023 Draft picks: 6

 

What went wrong

 

Lack of secondary scoring: The Penguins' top six forwards -- Jake Guentzel (35 goals), Crosby (33), Rickard Rakell (28), Malkin (27), Zucker (27) and Bryan Rust (20) -- have accounted for 66 percent of the team's total goals (170 of 259). The only other two players in double digits in goals are Jeff Carter (13) and Letang (11). None of Pittsburgh's defensemen have at least 40 points (Letang has 39 in 63 games). Entering Wednesday, the Penguins were 28th in goals from defensemen (29) and 23rd in points from defensemen (162).

 

Deadline deals didn't work: The Penguins acquired forward Mikael Granlund from the Nashville Predators on March 1, and then acquired Bonino from the San Jose Sharks and Kulikov from the Anaheim Ducks on March 3 before the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline. They have received a total of one goal, five assists and 28 games played from those three players. Granlund, acquired for his versatility and ability to add secondary scoring, has five points (one goal, four assists) in 20 games. Bonino was acquired for his ability to center a bottom-six line, kill penalties and provide some offense. He has played in three games with zero points. He has missed 17 straight with a lacerated kidney. Kulikov played in four games, had one assist, and then missed 14 straight because of a lower-body injury.

 

Too many ups and downs: The Penguins have run hot and cold all season, with four spurts of solid, winning hockey and four that featured inconsistent, mostly losing hockey. They were 4-0-1 in their first five games, but 0-6-1 in their next seven. They followed that with their longest sustained hot streak, going 15-3-2 from Nov. 9-Dec. 20. But then it was 2-6-2 in the next 10, followed by a run of 6-2-3 in 11. Then came a four-game losing streak, all in regulation, from Feb. 17-23. But optimism picked up again in advance of the deadline, when the Penguins went 7-1-1 from Feb. 25-March 12. They went back to the inconsistent stuff and are 6-9-0 in their past 15 games, including a crushing 5-2 loss at home to the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday. It doesn't help that they lead the NHL with nine losses in games when they have the lead going into the third period (four in regulation, five in overtime/shootout). And, on top of it, the Penguins got inconsistent goaltending. Tristan Jarry had a .909 save percentage; seven of the eight teams that made the playoffs in the East had a goalie with at least .910 or better (Florida is the exception). The Penguins allow 3.21 goals per game, which is 19th in the League.

 

Reasons for optimism

 

87, 71 and 58: The Penguins still have Crosby (No. 87), Malkin (No. 71) and Letang (No. 58) and as long as they do, and those three are still playing well, they will have a chance. Nobody can pin the blame on Crosby, Malkin and Letang for the Penguins missing the playoffs this season. Crosby leads the Penguins with 91 points in 81 games. Malkin is second with 83 points in 81 games. Letang, despite missing 18 games because of injury, has 39 points in 63 games. They're still getting it done, and as long as they do the Penguins will be in the hunt for a playoff spot.

 

Changes should be coming: The one thing missing the playoffs will do for the Penguins is force some hard decisions on people who have made significant contributions to the success of the team in the past decade. What is the future of coach Mike Sullivan, the Penguins' all-time leader in wins (337) and two-time Stanley Cup championship coach? Will the Penguins re-sign defenseman Brian Dumoulin, who helped them win the Stanley Cup in 2016 and 2017. Will there be a new No. 1 goalie with Jarry ticketed for unrestricted free agency if the Penguins let him get there? Change is coming. How much and how significant remain to be seen. But change could bring a new energy to the Penguins.

 

The draft will matter: Unless they trade the pick, the Penguins will be selecting in the top 16 of the first round in the 2023 NHL Draft. Their draft lottery odds will be low, so it's unlikely predicted top picks Connor Bedard or Adam Fantilli are going to make their way to Pittsburgh to be what Crosby and Mario Lemieux have been for the franchise. But the Penguins have not picked in the top 20 of the draft since 2012, when they went No. 12 and took defenseman Derrick Pouliot. The Penguins have gotten 13 games out of their 36 draft picks since 2016. It has to get better than that.

I all honesty I would resign both Jarry and Dumoulin then trade Dumoulin either for picks or prospects. Will the Pens trade Dumoulin? I doubt it very much.

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As a life long Flyer fan, welcome to the island of misfit toys and misfit actions by our GMs. 
 

Hextall has killed both PA teams, what state will he target next?

Edited by Samifan
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That is a pretty good run of success though.

I've come to begrudgingly admire the longevity and quality of of play from their big 3.

I still hate the Pens with the fire of a million burning suns, but I have to tip the cap to them for keeping that legitimate competitive window open for almost 2 decades.

I wonder if they tear it down or try to load up for one last run of the Crosby gang?

It will be interesting to see what that organization does now. 

 

Edited by mojo1917
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28 minutes ago, mojo1917 said:

That is a pretty good run of success though.

I've come to begrudgingly admire the longevity and quality of of play from their big 3.

I still hate the Pens with the fire of a million burning suns, but I have to tip the cap to them for keeping that legitimate competitive window open for almost 2 decades.

I wonder if they tear it down or try to load up for one last run of the Crosby gang?

It will be interesting to see what that organization does now. 

 

 

Funny you should ask. According to Frank Seravalli:

 

"Chants of “Fire Hextall” emanated in PPG Paints Arena this week for at least the third time this season as the Pittsburgh Penguins punctured their own playoff hopes with a loss to the 31st place Chicago Blackhawks. This spring marks the first time since 2006, when Sidney Crosby was 19, that the Pens won’t have a ticket to the dance. Sources said there were strong indications Fenway Sports Group was beginning to put the wheels in motion for a complete change in Penguins leadership, which is likely to also include president of hockey operations Brian Burke. Fenway purchased the Pens in 2021, inheriting Hextall and Burke. Hextall’s track record as GM is abysmal: In seven seasons, his teams have made the playoffs four times and not won a single round. The postseason appearances are not as strong as they seem: two of them were with Penguins rosters he was handed. Hextall’s trade deadline was disastrous: Mikael Granlund, Nick Bonino and Dmitry Kulikov all hurt the team. And recent re-signings Jeff Carter (38), Evgeni Malkin (35), Kris Letang (35) will have the proud Pens feeling pain for years to come with no opening in sight to return to the playoff mix. "

 

 

 

https://www.dailyfaceoff.com/news/10-burning-offseason-questions-facing-the-nhls-16-non-playoff-teams-2

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If Hextall is fired, and I think he should be, there's a lot of work to do. The lineup next year needs to look something like

 

Guentzel - Crosby - Rakell

Different - Malkin - Rust

Different - Different - Different

Different - Different - Different

 

Different - Letang

Different - Petry

Joseph - Different

 

In other words, this will take years.

 

I just don't get what he was doing. I get where @notfondajaneis coming from: there should only be this little depth when a team is purposely trying to tank. The Pens, by the way, don't have a single player on the team that they drafted in the 1st round other than Crosby or Malkin, and that was a long time ago. After the Blues were kind enough to claim Kasperi Kapanen, and take him off the Pens books, Hextall trades a 2nd for Mikael Granlund's $5M cap hit which he'll have to carry until the 2026 season, if unable to pawn him off to another sucker.

 

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5 hours ago, JR Ewing said:

If Hextall is fired, and I think he should be, there's a lot of work to do. The lineup next year needs to look something like

 

Guentzel - Crosby - Rakell

Different - Malkin - Rust

Different - Different - Different

Different - Different - Different

 

Different - Letang

Different - Petry

Joseph - Different

 

In other words, this will take years.

 

I just don't get what he was doing. I get where @notfondajaneis coming from: there should only be this little depth when a team is purposely trying to tank. The Pens, by the way, don't have a single player on the team that they drafted in the 1st round other than Crosby or Malkin, and that was a long time ago. After the Blues were kind enough to claim Kasperi Kapanen, and take him off the Pens books, Hextall trades a 2nd for Mikael Granlund's $5M cap hit which he'll have to carry until the 2026 season, if unable to pawn him off to another sucker.

 

I'm disgusted with this team and management. Do they know what they are doing? A win now attitude doesn't work! I blame ownership for this team! Maybe this year was a see what we have type year. I hope things get better with this year's draft. Trading a 2nd pick I am not that confident in that thought.

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37 minutes ago, notfondajane said:

Trading a 2nd pick I am not that confident in that thought.

Welcome to our world…. Flyers management have been trading 2nd Rd picks for years…..

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4 hours ago, pilldoc said:

Welcome to our world…. Flyers management have been trading 2nd Rd picks for years…..

Maybe Fenway Sports Group will shake things up here in Western PA.

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11 hours ago, mojo1917 said:

That is a pretty good run of success though.

I've come to begrudgingly admire the longevity and quality of of play from their big 3.

I still hate the Pens with the fire of a million burning suns, but I have to tip the cap to them for keeping that legitimate competitive window open for almost 2 decades.

I wonder if they tear it down or try to load up for one last run of the Crosby gang?

It will be interesting to see what that organization does now. 

 

I'm hoping to start a youth movement while Crosby, Malkin and Letang are in the line up

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Posted (edited)

 

 

Penguins fire president Burke, GM Hextall after missing playoffs

Assistant GM Pryor also out; coach Sullivan to help with transition

https://www.nhl.com/news/pittsburgh-fires-president-brian-burke-gm-ron-hextall-after-missing-playoffs/c-343541130

 

The Pittsburgh Penguins fired team president Brian Burke, general manager Ron Hextall and assistant GM Chris Pryor on Friday. 

 Burke and Hextall were in their second full seasons with the Penguins and this was Pryor's first season as assistant GM, being promoted to that position on June 14. 

 

Coach Mike Sullivan will assist in the sharing of managerial duties until replacements are found. 

The Penguins (40-31-10) missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in 16 seasons, which was the longest streak in the NHL. 
 
They were eliminated when the New York Islanders defeated the Montreal Canadiens 4-2 on Wednesday, a day after the Penguins lost 5-2 at home to the Chicago Blackhawks. 
 
"We are grateful to Brian, Ron, and Chris for their contributions to the organization over the past two seasons, but we feel that the team will benefit from new hockey operations leadership," Fenway Sports Group principal owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner said in a statement. "While this season has been disappointing, we believe in our core group of players and the goal of contending for the Stanley Cup has not changed." 
 
The search for their replacements will begin immediately. 
 
During the transition, hockey operations managerial duties will be shared by director of hockey operations Alec Schall, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton general manager Erik Heasley and hockey operations analyst Andy Saucier. 
 
Burke and Hextall were hired on Feb. 9, 2021, replacing former general manager Jim Rutherford. 
 
"I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked in this passionate sports town," Burke said in a tweet. "Thank you to FSG, Mario Lemieux, David Morehouse, management and coaches, and especially to our great group of players. Best of luck to the Penguins and their incredible fan base in the future." 
  
Pittsburgh was eliminated in the first round of two Stanley Cup Playoffs after hiring Burke and Hextall before failing to qualify this season. It won the Stanley Cup in 2016 and 2017 under Rutherford, who cited personal reasons for resigning on Jan. 27, 2021. 
 
With Burke and Hextall, the Penguins re-signed center Evgeni Malkin and defenseman Kris Letang to long-term contracts last offseason. Malkin agreed to a four-year, $24.4 million contract on July 12 after Letang signed a six-year, $36.6 million contract on July 7. 
 
Malkin, 36, was second on the Penguins with 83 points (27 goals, 56 assists) in 82 games this season, behind fellow center Sidney Crosby (93 points; 33 goals, 60 assists). Letang, 35, led the defensemen with 41 points (12 goals, 29 assists) in 64 games despite having the second stroke of his NHL career on Nov. 28. 

 

Before the Malkin and Letang signings, forward Jeff Carter agreed to a two-year contract with a $3.125 million average annual value on Jan. 26, 2022. The 38-year-old had 48 points (20 goals, 29 assists) in 119 games since, including 29 points (13 goals, 16 assists) in 79 games this season. 

 

Forward Kasperi Kapanen was signed to a two-year contract with a $3.2 million AAV on July 21 after having 34 points (15 goals, 19 assists) in 66 games last season. He was placed on waivers and claimed by the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 25.

 

Kapanen had 20 points (seven goals, 13 assists) in 43 games as part of a struggling bottom-six forward group in Pittsburgh and 14 points (eight goals, six assists) in 23 games with St. Louis. 

 

Forward Rickard Rakell was acquired in a trade from the Anaheim Ducks on March 21, 2022. He has 73 points (32 goals, 41 assists) in 101 games since, including 60 points (28 goals, 32 assists) in 82 games mostly played at right wing on one of the top two lines this season. 

 

Production similar to Rakell's was missing from other acquisitions. 

 

Mikael Granlund had five points (one goal, four assists) in 21 games after being acquuired from the Nashville Predators in a trade on March 1 this season. The forward had 36 points (nine goals, 27 assists) in 58 games before the trade.  

 

Forward Nick Bonino, part of the 2016 and 2017 championships, returned in a three-team trade with the San Jose Sharks and Montreal Canadiens on March 3. He went without a point in three games before suffering a lacerated kidney that ended his season. 

 

Defenseman Dmitry Kulikov was also acquired before the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline on March 3, coming in from the Ducks. He had one assist in six games and missed 14 games with a lower-body injury before returning for the final two. 

 

The Penguins were 9-10-2 after the trade deadline, finishing the season with 91 points, their lowest total since having 58 points at 22-46-14 in 2005-06. 

 

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On 4/14/2023 at 3:20 AM, notfondajane said:

Maybe Fenway Sports Group will shake things up here in Western PA.

 

 

Fenway Group, owners of the Pittsburgh Penguins are believed to have been granted permission to speak with ex-Leafs GM Kyle Dubas.

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On 5/22/2023 at 8:40 PM, OccamsRazor said:

 

 

Fenway Group, owners of the Pittsburgh Penguins are believed to have been granted permission to speak with ex-Leafs GM Kyle Dubas.

If hired, let's hope he does a better job in Pittsburgh than Toronto! 

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On 5/24/2023 at 5:06 AM, yave1964 said:

?? 

There is a reason why he left Toronto. I'm hoping his experience in Toronto will help him in Pittsburgh. If it was a negative reason I am hoping that he learned from his mistakes. 

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On 4/13/2023 at 9:29 AM, Samifan said:

As a life long Flyer fan, welcome to the island of misfit toys and misfit actions by our GMs. 
 

Hextall has killed both PA teams, what state will he target next?

He was pissing me off. I'm kind of glad he's gone. I hope he goes back to the Flyers! 

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