Is it safe to say the Pittsburgh Penguins are back? It feels that way following their 6-5 overtime victory against the Atlantic Division 1st-place Boston Bruins last night. However, the Pens have a way to go before we can say that comfortably without second-guessing them.
That said, the Pens are heating up in the Metropolitan Division after this vital win, marked by Sidney Crosby's standout performance, signals a potential turning point for the team. With upcoming matchups against Buffalo, Philadelphia, Vancouver, and Carolina, the Penguins are making a strong push for a spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs discussion after sitting in the division's basement for over a month.
It's a deadlock in the standings right now as the Penguins are locked in a three-way tie for 5th place with the Devils and Capitals – yeah, the same Caps we just fell to recently. If we'd snagged that win, we'd be in a different spot, but let's not dwell on that. The fact is, the Pens have dropped only three out of their last ten games, which is what you expect from them.
The next four games are critical. Beating the Flyers and Hurricanes? Absolutely non-negotiable, especially with Philly just ahead of us in 4th. We have no room for error, and thankfully, Crosby and Guentzel are firing on all cylinders. Remember those Guentzel trade rumors we were discussing a few weeks back? Well, those discussions might be old news now, with the Pens' stock climbing steadily.
The Penguins still have room to improve
Even though we're racking up points in the standings, the Penguins still have some kinks to work out, and it's the same old story we've been talking about all season. Take last night against the Bruins: we jump to a big lead, and then, just like that, we're sweating it out as they claw back.
And who could forget the slow starts, like in the Capitals game? Sure, Jarry's been solid this season, but even he has off nights. Some folks might shrug it off as 'just hockey,' but let's be real – that's not the kind of hockey we want to see.
I was pumped to see Ryan Graves record a goal, but we need more from him on defense. We've got Letang and Karlsson lighting it up with assists and goals, but what about the gritty defensive plays? We need guys battling it out in front of the net, giving our goalies a hand. That's the grit we're missing.
These are the areas we need to buckle down on to really hit our stride. And you know what? I think we can pull it off. There's a lot of hockey left to play, and despite these flaws, the future's looking bright.