Yes, the Pittsburgh Penguins are dominating the regular-season once again. And kudos to them, because they do it consistently every year.
But as pathetic as it sounds, it doesn’t matter.
I mean, of course, winning games during the regular-season is crucial for Stanley Cup aspirations. However, over recent years, we have come to expect Pittsburgh will inevitably make the playoffs, and that’s where their fate ultimately lies.
Obviously, for any team, the postseason’s a testament of their overall campaign. But for Pittsburgh, it’s everything.
The Pens’ have failed, miserably at times, in four straight postseason appearances since they captured the cup in 2009. That comes with the territory of possessing high-end talent – rocketed expectations. It’s dumbfounding though for a team to have that much experience and artillery, to just get caught with their pants down in the playoffs.
Pittsburgh has delivered a plethora of uncharacteristic mistakes over recent postseason attempts. Errors that are hard to overcome and difficult to fathom. Their defense has been exploited, tarnished, and unbearably viewable. Not to mention the amount of goals they have surrendered. Cough, Marc-Andre Fleury.
Frustration also seems to be a determining factor. Emotions are always high when it comes to the postseason, but they shouldn’t let that dictate their concentration and discipline. Learning to harness them has been detrimental to Pittsburgh. We see more-and-more scrums, scuffles, and bad penalties as a direct result of their temper-tantrums. And it needs to stop.
Pittsburgh is built for the postseason, yet they haven’t met expectations in the slightest. Maybe the beating they received from Boston in the 2013 Eastern Conference Finals brought them back down to earth, especially since they got swept. Sometimes though, not saying they necessarily carry this mentality, but on occasion, a team that’s on top of the world can feel like nothing can stop them. And ultimately, the hunger evaporates because they anticipate victory being a forgone conclusion.
Saturday’s tilt against the Dallas Stars was a perfect example of them not playing with that desperation, that urgency. There was no fight. Not to say they weren’t trying to win the game, but as to how much effort they infiltrated is debatable. That game versus Dallas, in my opinion, is almost a carbon copy of how the team has played in their recent postseason trips. Execution, all across the board, was a near match to the reasons why they’ve been trounced from the playoffs.
So forget the regular-season. Remove all the overconfidence you have in this team, because none of this will justify how effective they will be in the postseason. In fact, I’ll go as-far-as to say that it doesn’t matter who they play, because any team can trump them. We saw it last season with the eighth-seed, New York Islanders.
Pittsburgh is gifted with some of the best athletes in hockey, and that adds more pressure to succeed. Although the squad can be beaten at any time during the playoffs, they’re heavy favorites for a reason – because when the Pens are at their best, it’s borderline impossible to top them.
So don’t judge this team right now, evaluate their postseason’ performance.
Championship teams are built on drive. How much Pittsburgh’ pours into it will determine their end result.