NHL 15: Pittsburgh Penguins Guide
Written By: Moorese7en
Year in Review:
Early in the season, rookie defenseman Olli Maatta shined and stayed on the main roster past the preseason. We also saw the beginning of an injury plagued season with Rob Scuderi, Kris Letang and Beau Bennett having health issues as well as veteran goaltender Tomas Vokoun, who would not see any action during the season due to a blood clotting problem. The team was led by it’s stars once again as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin continued to show why they were in the top tier of NHL forwards.
The Pens saw there share of problems all season: Kris Letang was out for a large portion of the season due to a stroke caused by a heart defect, James Neal saw a few suspensions due to kneeing Brad Marchand in the head and a dirty hit to Luke Glendening and Brooks Oprik missed considerable amount of time after being sucker punched by Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton. They also saw a lot of good things on the ice. Sidney Crosby captured the Hart Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award and the Art Ross Trophy and played 81 games after a few injury filled seasons. The Penguins also held the division title for a majority of the season.
Ray Shero, famous for bringing in Jussi Jokinen, Jarome Iginla, Douglas Murray and Brenden Morrow last season, was not quite as active in the ’13-’14 trade deadline. He acquired center Marcel Goc from the Florida Panthers for a 3rd and 5th Round draft pick. Goc, a bottom six forward who does well on the PK and faceoffs, had some injury trouble, but did contribute to the Penguins team. Shero also acquired winger Lee Stempniak from the Calgary Flames for a 3rd Round pick. Stempniak did well filling in where needed, but ultimately wasn’t the ‘last piece’ needed.
The Penguins captured first place in the Metro division with a 109 point season and were paired up with the Columbus Blue Jackets for the first round of the playoffs. This series saw the ‘Curse of the 3-1 Lead,’ as the team who went up 3-1 would end up falling short and losing the game. The curse was ultimately lifted when the Penguins held a 3-1 lead and beat the Jackets in game 5. The Penguins put the final nail in the coffin in game 6, winning 4-3. It was no cake walk, though, as the Jackets won their first playoff game as well as another in the series. This cemented our status as a budding rivalry.
The Penguins went on to play the New York Rangers, going up 3-1 in the series. As the last series showed, 3-1 was in no way, shape or form safe. The Rangers ended up winning 3 straight, rallying around Martin St. Louis after the death of his mother and winning the series (and eventually the ECF). You could see the team feel the stress of losing 3 straight after having such strong showings in the games prior.
The offseason began, and we saw a change in the Pens front office and bench: Ray Shero was fired, with Danny Bylsma soon to follow and they were replaced by former Canes GM, Jim Rutherford, and former Portland Winterhawks coach, Mike Johnston.
Highlights from the 2013 – 2014 Season:
Why the Pittsburgh Penguins Will Win The Cup This Year:
Pittsburgh has finally built a solid bottom six so as to not rely on Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to do everything. The top six will still be potent offensively, but the bottom six will be reliable to play defense and score. Also, Kasperi Kapanen could break out – he’s already been playing with the big guys in Europe. The defense also looks solid, and it will be nice with Rob Scuderi seeing limited 3rd pairing minutes rather than Bylsma playing him a lot. Scuds isn’t god awful, he’s just lost a step and needs to see less time. It’s his contract that sucks. Finally, MAF will play lights out all season and lead us through the playoffs and Johnston’s system will be just what we need.
Why the Pittsburgh Penguins Won’t Win The Cup This Year:
Obviously, injuries could plague us again – especially with Crosby and Malkin’s history. Hornqvist could have trouble meshing with Geno, or vice versa. The defense could crumble. MAF could go cold in the playoffs. Johnston could have a terrible outing for his first season. A number of things could go wrong, but I feel our realistic worst case scenario is we lose in the 2nd, 3rd round of the playoffs just because we aren’t quite there yet.