Why the Penguins Can Three-Peat
One can only imagine how tough it is to win a championship in professional sports.
Imagine having to go through a long regular season filled with ups and downs, injuries, and travel and then follow it up with playing in the postseason for the holy grail of your particular sport. A lot of blood, sweat, and tears are put into every season in hopes that the team will come away with a championship.
If you can believe it, going into the upcoming NHL campaign, the Pittsburgh Penguins will be vying for their third straight Stanley Cup. While it's hard to comprehend how an NHL club can win three straight Cups given the parity of the league, one should not count out this year's Penguins on giving everything they got to capture their third consecutive Cup.
In fact, there are several reasons why this team has a chance to make it happen. For starters, there is 30-year-old captain Sidney Crosby.
While Edmonton Oilers phenom Connor McDavid is getting all the accolades, it can be argued that Crosby is still the best player in the world. Crosby is coming off a season in which he had 89 points in the regular season (44 goals and 45 assists), 27 points in the postseason (8 goals and 19 assists), and earned a Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the postseason.
Sid also garnered the following last season:
- Won the Rocket Richard Trophy as the league's leading goal scorer in the regular season
- Hart Trophy finalist as the league's most valuable player
- Finished second for the Art Ross Trophy to McDavid as the league's leader in points
- Was a finalist for the Ted Lindsay Award as the league's most valuable player as voted by his peers
- Was named one of the 100 greatest players in the league
As long as Crosby is healthy and continues to play at this unbelievable level, there is no reason to think that he will not be able to lead his team to another Cup this season. With that said, the offensive depth behind him is also a reason why the Penguins have a chance to three-peat.
geni Malkin (33 goals and 39 assists for 72 points), Phil Kessel (23 goals and 47 assists for 70 points), Conor Sheary (23 goals and 30 assists for 57 points), Jake Guentzel (16 goals and 17 assists for 33 points), and others like Carl Hagelin and Patric Hornqvist, the club is more than set up front to put the puck in the net. Combine this with offensive blue liners such as Kris Letang (5 goals and 29 assists for 34 points) and Justin Schultz (12 goals and 39 assists for 51 points) and you have offense coming from everywhere.
Lastly, the Penguins have a two-time Cup winner between the pipes in 23-year-old Matt Murray. After having a solid regular season in posting 32 wins with a 2.32 goals against average, a .923 save percentage, and four shutouts, Murray played even better in the playoffs in limited time due to injury. In 11 games, Murray went 7-3 with a 1.70 goals against average, a .937 save percentage and three shutouts, even garnering some votes for the Conn Smythe Trophy.
Even in a league with so much parity and many elite teams, the Penguins are in a good position to take a shot at a third Cup in as many years.
Previously, Patrick has covered the NHL for Sportsnet.ca, Kukla’s Korner, Spector’s Hockey, About.com, NHL Network Radio blog, TheHockeyNews.com, The Fourth Period, Stan Fischler’s “The Fischler Report”, as well as a slew of others.