NHL HHOF Posted April 13 Share Posted April 13 (edited) 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 April 13 by NHL HHOF 1 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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