Penguins’ All-World Core Continues to Disappoint

Penguins’ All-World Core Continues to Disappoint
Michael Pityk

It’s no secret the Pittsburgh Penguins have some great players on their team. But they also have some of the worst in the league taking the ice every night.

However, their great players just happen to be some of the best in the entire NHL. Their core of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Marc-Andre Fleury, arguably, is the best in the league. What will their legacy be?

As of now, they have consistently disappointed.

Since 2005 people have been saying “the Penguins could become a dynasty” and 10 years later what do they have to show for it? One Stanley Cup, disappointed fans and continual playoff implosions.

Earlier in their careers Crosby and Malkin were capable of dominating a playoff series on their own, but as time has passed, the league has adjusted. They no longer have the same type of impact on a Penguins’ playoff game. Here’s a further breakdown of the Penguins’ best players production.

Before 2011-2012:

  • Crosby: 62 games played, 30 goals, 52 assists, 82 points: 1.32 points per game
  • Malkin: 62 games played, 29 goals, 44 assists, 73 points: 1.18 points per game

Since 2011-2012:

  • Crosby: 37 games played, 13 goals, 22 assists, 35 points: .98 points per game
  • Malkin: 38 games played, 13 goals, 25 assists, 38 points: 1 point per game

While you can look at the basic numbers and think Crosby and Malkin are still playing very well, it’s not the whole truth. Pick any of the last four playoff runs and try to find a game where Crosby and/or Malkin dominated it. They used to do that and taking over a game means more than producing points. It’s dictating the pace, controlling the puck effectively and working in sync with their team.

If these two Penguins were anyone else, these numbers would still be great and they would be cause for celebration. Except the Penguins have proven over the last few seasons, producing at a point per game isn’t good enough. That isn’t entirely their fault because Crosby and Malkin often times don’t have a very good team around them, but given their contracts and status, they are expected to produce more.

When everything else fails, these two players are supposed to rise up and push the team forward. They haven’t been doing that and the Penguins have faltered because of it.

The way Pittsburgh has set up their core is a blessing and a curse because while their four main players are talented, they require large contracts. This limits the ability to bring in free agents, make trades and surround them with quality players. That shouldn’t be an excuse as the players demanded their contracts based on their play and knew what limitations it would place on the organization.

If anything it is on Crosby and Malkin to perform even better now than earlier in their career because they are getting paid much better. The sad truth is as these two age it becomes harder and harder to perform at that level again, they’re getting older and have played hundreds of games.

In general, veteran players are able to play well during the postseason, but eventually lose the ability to take over games and win the series for their team. It seems that Crosby and Malkin aren’t able to do that anymore for the Penguins. You no longer see the same type of explosion in their skating, they often pass the puck too much and don’t trust their instincts as much as they used to.

The Penguins need more to succeed and it’s not breaking news that both have played (and are presently) through injuries to try to get their team to round two.

Even when healthy Crosby and Malkin both haven’t looked the same and maybe it’s the number of injuries they’ve sustained taking a toll on them. Given the Penguins current contract setup, Crosby and Malkin have to play the way they did in their youth if they want to win another Stanley Cup.

Michael Pityk

Michael plans to eventually work in the NHL in some capacity. He spends his free time analyzing hockey and studying advanced metrics.

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