Losing To The Capitals Is The Wake Up Call The Penguins Needed
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Losing To The Capitals Is The Wake Up Call The Penguins Needed

Defensive holes and sub-par forward play were finally brought to light in the Penguins' series loss to Washington.

Losing To The Capitals Is The Wake Up Call The Penguins Needed

One breakaway, one goal and one red lamp lit. Evgeny Kuznetsov’s goal in overtime of game six of the Eastern Conference Semifinals snapped the Washington Capitals string of bad-luck against the black and gold.

The goal gave the Capitals a 2-1 win and a 4-2 series win. Washington advanced to the conference finals, giving the city a conference finals appearance for the first time in 20 years.

After hoisting Lord Stanley twice through the streets of Pittsburgh, Sydney Crosby and company will be on the golf course watching a new champion hoist the cup, and a new name will be etched in the side for all eternity.

For Penguins fans, this is one of the worst ways to go out and it really stings.

Not only did they get knocked out of the playoffs in the second round, but they lost to the Capitals, who so many had mocked for years for not getting past the second round literally ever.

Just two weeks ago, the Capitals were still the running gag of the NHL postseason. Now they are in the conference finals.

To me, this loss might just be what the Penguins needed. It is a wake-up call to glaring issues that have kind of been ignored for years and this defeat will open their eyes.

Even over the past three years of Penguin dominance, they have had one of the weakest defenses of any power team.

Kris Letang is no longer the defensive authority he once was, and the supporting cast was not much better.

In fact, the only man on that side of the ice not named Matt Murray that had a stellar performance in that series was Brian Dumoulin, and without him shutting down Ovechkin for most of that series it would have been REALLY ugly.

On top of that, the Penguins saw a lot of scoring from their other players during their cup runs. This year was different.

In the Capitals’ series, only three different forwards scored a goal, meaning that 10 forwards did not light the lamp once.

Watching this series reminded me of the early years of Crosby and Evgeni Malkin being basically a two-man machine on offense, and there is a reason that those early teams did not win a Stanley Cup.

While Malkin and Haeglin were banged up during that series, other forwards like Bryan Rust and Connor Sheary needed to contribute.

Unlike last year where so many clutch goals were scored by the young forwards, they were silent on the stat sheet, and that was a huge reason the Pens were sent home early this time around.

And finally, for the love of god, if you are a Penguins fan PLEASE stop hounding Murray. He is an excellent goaltender that gets absolutely peppered with shots each game.

If he actually had a not sub-par defense in front of him, he could be putting up Pekka Rinne numbers.

Even if Marc-Andre Fleury did not go to Vegas and was still rotating with Murray this year, it would have not changed anything for the better because of the sub-defensive play.

While winning is nice (and trust me going to a victory parade is incredible if you ever get the chance), this season as a whole showed the weaknesses of Pittsburgh that were not revealed too much over the past two seasons.

The Penguins need to fortify their defensive lines and find those contributing scorers for the 2019 season. If they can do that, they will be well on their way to a third Stanley Cup in four years and could possibly cement a dynasty.

For now, we will just have to wait. In the meantime, Pens fans should go root for Vegas and support former goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury in the Western Conference Semifinals. Go Golden Knights!

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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