For the first time since 2006, Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins won’t be heading to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
With the New York Islanders beating the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night, the Pens were officially eliminated from postseason contention, falling just short of the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. They lost to one of the worst teams, the Chicago Blackhawks, by a score of 5-2 on Tuesday evening.
While Sid the Kid had another fantastic campaign with 33 goals and 58 assists while the likes of Evgeni Malkin and Jake Guentzel also did their part, the Penguins lacked consistency from top to bottom. Per NHL.com, the team’s top six forwards accounted for 66% of their goals, and most notably, no defenceman finished with 40 or more points. Kris Letang’s 39 was the best mark and he even missed 18 games.
Pittsburgh might have had streaks where they won numerous contests, but the Pens also went cold for days on end. The club also went 6-9-0 in the last 15 outings of the regular season, which seriously hurt their playoff chances. Plus, goaltending proved to be an issue. Triston Jarry had a .909 save percentage and allowed 2.90 goals per contest. Combined with Casey DeSmith, the two conceded 3.21 goals, which ranked 19th in the league.
The Penguins were truly a dominant playoff team over the last decade-plus, winning an NHL-best 103 postseason games from 2007 to 2022. They also won Stanley Cups in 2009, 2016, and 2017.
Their 16-year run was also the longest playoff streak in all four North American sports leagues:
The Penguins have been eliminated from playoff contention.
Their streak of 16 consecutive playoff appearances was the longest in the 4 major North American men's sports leagues. pic.twitter.com/D7qkzH4MwS
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) April 13, 2023
The playoffs will have a much different feel in 2023 because not only is Sidney Crosby missing out, but so is Alex Ovechkin. The Washington Capitals were eliminated last week. It’s the first time both legends won’t be in the postseason since 2006. Just let that sink in. Via B/R Open Ice:
This will officially be the first NHL playoffs without Crosby and Ovechkin since 2006 pic.twitter.com/3iuIgRdcFa
— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) April 13, 2023
On a more positive note, Crosby, Malkin, and Letang aren’t going anywhere yet. If the Penguins can improve their supporting cast, they have a chance to be back in the mix in 2023-24.