After three straight early postseason exits, the Pittsburgh Penguins era of dominance is ending. To save it, they need to make these three moves.
The Pittsburgh Penguins‘ run of dominance is quickly ending. Since winning back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017, the Pens have been trending in the wrong direction. They lost to the Washington Capitals in a hard-fought series in 2018. 2019 saw them lose to the New York Islanders in the first round. This postseason, they lost to the 12th-seeded Montreal Canadiens in the play-in round.
It wasn’t just that they lost to the Habs. This postseason is so odd because of the four-month break between the regular season and postseason, plus the best-of-five series. It’s how they lost to the Canadiens that’s alarming. The Penguins looked completely unmotivated and lost for the last 4.5 periods. It was a meltdown from everyone involved, from the coaches to the players.
Now, this isn’t the end of the Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin era. Not by a long shot. They’re still two of the best players in the world. The Penguins are still a pretty darn good team. If they’re healthy, their top-six forward group is among the best in the NHL. Kris Letang is flawed, but he’s still one of the NHL’s premier defensemen.
However, it’s painfully clear the Penguins need to tinker with their roster. Remember, back in the summer of 2015, the Penguins needed changes. They didn’t do it by subtracting from their core. Instead, they added to it by trading for Phil Kessel. The Penguins’ core is still strong. It just needs a bit more help.
This loss to the Canadiens should be embarrassing for the Penguins. They got precisely what they deserved. Everyone from Crosby and Malkin to Sullivan reaped what they sowed. This should be a busy offseason for Pittsburgh, but if they’re smart, they’ll make these three moves.