Dom Lunardo | Aug 26th, 2019
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Known for its Three Sisters Bridges, “Steelerstown”, and the 5-time Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins. Mario Lemieux, Ron Francis, Jaromir Jagr, and of course Sidney Crosby, are just some of the famous names who have donned the famous uniform in The ‘Burgh. After winning back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017, the die-hard fans in Pittsburgh have rather unpleasantly seen their beloved Penguins endure consecutive postseason appearances end much earlier than expected. Hey, as they say, you can’t win em all. But with 71 and 87 getting into their mid-to-late 30s, the time is now for the Penguins to push and hopefully raise Lord Stanley one more time.
It was a bitter (and rather disappointing) end to the 2018/19 season for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Heading into the postseason, few could have predicted their opening round, four-game sweep at the hands of the New York Islanders. Although the Islanders enjoyed a fantastic regular season, many experts in and around the game viewed the Penguins as the superior team and one who would surely have the upper hand in a best-of-seven series. Head Coach Mike Sullivan and General Manager Jim Rutherford had little to no answer for the speedy, and “in your face” style that the Islanders boasted. Four games and nine days later, the Penguins were cleaning out their lockers and preparing for the long summer ahead. Fast-forward six months, and the Penguins will have a slightly different roster composition when the season kicks off in early October.
This past summer brought new changes to the city of Pittsburgh. General Manager Jim Rutherford once again shuffled the deck this off-season and moved the six-time 30 goal scorer, Phil Kessel, to the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for talented winger, Alex Galchenyuk. He also flipped intelligent, Finnish born-defenceman Olli Maatta to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for forward Dominik Kahun, a player that Rutherford and the Penguins are quite excited about. As always the Penguins will rely heavily on the goaltending duo of Matt Murray and Casey DeSmith to give them quality performances down the stretch in a very competitive Metropolitan Division. On the blue line, Kris Letang, Justin Schultz, and Brian Dumoulin will be expected to carry the load right from the get-go. At the forward position lies Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Patric Hornqvist and the rest of the band. A fresh start to the season and the infusion of youth upfront should help the Penguins score on a more consistent basis in 2019/20.
Prediction: Although there have been some significant changes over the past few seasons with the departure of some pretty important pieces on the ice, it’s hard to imagine the Stanley Cup Playoffs without the Pittsburgh black and gold. After a premature exit at the hands of the New York Islanders in the first round a season ago, look for the Pens to be back at the dance in the spring of 2019/20.
Check out our other 2019-2020 NHL Team Previews:
Colorado Avalanche|Florida Panthers|Dallas Stars|Arizona Coyotes|New Jersey Devils|San Jose Sharks|Buffalo Sabres|Los Angeles Kings|Vancouver Canucks|Winnipeg Jets|Carolina Hurricanes|Boston Bruins|Ottawa Senators|New York Islanders|Minnesota Wild|Vegas Golden Knights|Detroit Red Wings
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images