Being eliminated by No. 12 seed Canadiens is a hard pill to swallow for the Crosby Era and the Pittsburgh Penguins, but relax, another era is soon arriving.
Just like everyone else surrounding the Pittsburgh Penguins, Sidney Crosby, Mike Sullivan, and Kris Letang were left wondering what went wrong about such a perplexing defeat. After the Game 4 loss, Crosby said this in regards to this particular era’s window closing: “With age, it’s a possibility, but I can only speak personally. I would’ve liked to stay a little bit healthier and play a full season.”
Throughout the season, the three-headed monster of Malkin, Crosby, and Letang had missed a lot of game time, but there was hope in the air that with everyone back, the Penguins could make a push for a 4th Stanley Cup with this core group of players. However, things look a bit different now after their dismal loss to the Habs in just four games.
This season’s quick ending comes on the heels of a pretty disheartening postseason record. Since May 3rd of 2018, the Penguins have lost nine of their last ten postseason games. Head coach, Mike Sullivan, played it off, saying: “It’s an indication of how hard it is to win.” He’s not wrong, but it’s a clear sign of things to come, and maybe, these Pens aren’t Jordan and the Bulls.
One Pittsburgh Penguins era may end, but another is soon to begin.
However you want to look at this, the end will come sooner than later; but alas, things aren’t bleak everywhere in the Penguins organization. No, the Penguins didn’t get the Number 1 pick this season, but they will have to decide if they want to keep the 15th pick or not. Regardless of who or what they do, they already have three young potential stars waiting in the wings of the franchise.
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In almost the same format as Sid, Geno, and Tanger, come in the next era of stars in the form of Samuel Poulin, Pierre Olivier-Joseph, and Nathan Legare. Poulin and POJ made the Penguins training camp roster, and Joseph even got the call to go into the bubble. There is undoubtedly more to be seen, but the writing is clear, and all over the wall.
Legare, a playmaking right-winger, played in 61 CHL games this season and contributed 71 points along the way. Some might say that he is the furthest away from making it to the big team, but he’s taken huge strides since being drafted last year. Poulin, also a right-winger, made similar strides as Legare, except he provided 77 points in just 46 CHL games, earning him all the praise.
Poulin has been given the cliche title of “the next big thing,” and it makes sense when you look at his overall body of work. The bookend to this new up and coming era is POJ. Initially drafted by the Pheonix Coyotes in 2017, Joseph spent this season playing in the AHL with the Baby Pens. In 52 games, he contributed 17 points from the blue line.
Joseph was the only one of these three to make it to the bubble this offseason, showing just how highly Mike Sullivan thinks of him. With the question marks on defense as well, he may be needed sooner than the others. When Sid arrived on the scene, he has a pretty massive mentor in the form of Mario Lemieux; Sid will quickly need to switch roles and be to them, what Mario was for him.