NHL News

Penguins Need Individual Efforts to Offset Team Inconsistency

Kris Letang #58, Sidney Crosby #87 and Evgeni Malkin #71

When the Pittsburgh Penguins began their 2022-23 season, they had in mind a set of ambitious goals that included a plethora of playoff successes. The returns of highly prized free agents like Kris Letang and Evgeni Malkin alongside the ever-present leader, team captain, and franchise player Sidney Crosby resulted in a now-inconceivable prediction: the Penguins would contend for, and possibly even win the Stanley Cup. However, a recent stretch of poor play, largely beginning with select games in late February and still continuing, likely has some questioning the state of the franchise given how much optimism accompanied the start of the season.

PHILADELPHIA, PA – FEBRUARY 23: Kris Letang #58, Sidney Crosby #87 and Evgeni Malkin #71 of the Pittsburgh Penguins pose for a photo prior to the 2019 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Philadelphia Flyers at Lincoln Financial Field on February 23, 2019 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

While the period beginning in mid-February can be considered a low point for the team in 2022-23, the Penguins have also shown some slight promise and echoes of what they expected to be before the season began. However, those successes have just as quickly either been followed by or compared to seemingly colossal failures. In spite of this, there is something magical happening on an individual level with these Penguins, and it may just be the inspiration they need.

Important Victories Offset By Debilitating Defeats

The Penguins have been beset by division rivals for most of this season, so it was a welcome sight when they put one over on their Big Apple brethren the New York Rangers in a 3-2 overtime decision on March 12. Letang potted the winner, a storyline in itself as he has come back this season after unfortunately suffering another stroke in late Nov. 2022. The victory helped the Pens improve to (at that point) 7-1-1 in their last nine games and into a tie for the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference as well as to close the gap between them and the Rangers.

Louis Domingue Pittsburgh Penguins Mika Zibanejad New York Rangers
Louis Domingue of the Pittsburgh Penguins defends his net against Mika Zibanejad of the New York Rangers (Photo by Joe Sargent/NHLI via Getty Images)

The moral thrill of that victory was immediately followed by a crushing loss to the Montréal Canadiens in a game in which the Penguins allowed six goals to at team on a seven-game losing streak and a team that was lacking many…

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