The Penguins ended 2018 with a victory in Minnesota over the Wild. What can we expect early on from the Penguins as we kick off the new year.
The Penguins could not have ended the year any better than they did. The Pens rattled off six straight wins, including one of the biggest victories of the season, a 2-1 victory over the Capitals that started the current win streak. This streak has also shown the emergence of Matt Murray back to the player we all knew he could be. Murray has been magnificent since his return to injury… magnificent.
All that being said, is it realistic to expect these kinds of performances from the Penguins as we head into the new year? Absolutely! If we have learned anything from the Penguins over the past couple of seasons, it is that this team always seems to find their groove around this point, and they never look back.
The key to this, as with most things, will be continued consistency from the players that matter. We know that Crosby is going to bring it each night, but more importantly we should focus on the glue guys on this Penguins team. Kris Letang has had arguably the best season of his career, providing the Penguins with solid play each night. The Pens will look to him to continue to be a leader on the Defense, and he will be crucial to the success of this team.
It will also be important to see players like Bryan Rust continue to produce for the Penguins. Rust had an unbelievable December statistically, and when he gets healthy and back on the lineup, the Pens will hope that he can get even just a little close to that same type of production. Kessel has also been shining recently, and if all these guys can continue to gel, the NHL will have no chance at stopping this offense.
Of course, this winning streak will probably come to an end soon. But while losses are bound to come, the Pens will be focused on that key word of consistency, and getting themselves in good position for when the playoffs come around. This team is a Stanley Cup caliber team, and if they can continue to perform with that consistency, 2019 will be another great year for Pittsburgh.