Pittsburgh Penguins: 5 Reasons the Pens Will Win the Stanley Cup in 2016

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Oct 30, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Johnston (rear left) gestures as he talks with referee Steve Kozari (40) against the Los Angeles Kings during the second period at the CONSOL Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

5. Coaching

I fully believe that we haven’t seen the slightest bit of what Mike Johnston and staff has to offer. I’m normally not one to use injuries as an excuse, but considering the multitude of injuries that the Pens suffered to top-tier players, you simply can’t overlook that.

Johnston was forced to alter his system in order to adjust to the players he had at his disposal. He had to account for Rob Scuderi and Ben Lovejoy playing top-four minutes and an inability to create any kind of transition game. The Pittsburgh Penguins were forced to play dump-and-chase hockey after showing total dominance to start the season while focusing mainly on puck possession.

It’s possible that you’ll see coaching listed when I visit the five reasons the Pens won’t win the Cup, as there are clearly some holes in how this roster was managed last season. But, considering what Johnston was able to do with an injury depleted roster against the New York Rangers once the post-season began, he deserves some credit along with his criticism.

The Pens looked poised and didn’t unravel at the sight of adversity. They fought through a terribly officiated series to keep within a goal in all four losses, and came together as a team better than we’ve seen since 2009. And, that was without names like Kris Letang, Olli Maatta, Christian Ehrhoff, and Pascal Dupuis.

We could be very surprised at Mike Johnston’s effectiveness next season with a healthy roster.