It seems more an more likely that the Pittsburgh Penguins will NOT be participating in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year. I'm sure this will make many people happy, which is unfortunate if only because the league's two leading scorers will sit out the greatest sports tournament in the world.
I am also sure that this will make many Penguins fans decidedly unhappy, including me.
I would like to offer Pens fans some consolation with some of my positive thoughts on the season.
The 2007-2008 season was one of growth, and an amazing run to the SCF. Many young players gained some valuable experience and Evgeni Malkin, and other players, stepped up to fill in for their injured captain, Sidney Crosby.
Sure the 2008-2009 season has been disappointing. Going from a shaky opening few games, to a pretty decent first quarter of the season, the Penguins faltered and got into a habit of blowing multiple goal leads.
After losing their power-play anchor in Sergei Gonchar, effectively for the entire season, the Pens suffered a strange, revolving door of injuries that stifled consistency throughout the season. Ryan Whitney's return gave the team a little boost, but not enough to overcome their problems.
Remember Pens fans, the core of this team is still young and gaining experience. Playing through adversity and knowing how to fill all the gaps effectively is something you learn by playing through it.
The Pens are still strong up the middle with Crosby, Malkin, Staal, and Fleury in there for several years to come. Many of the other players WANT to stay in Pittsburgh because the organization is a great one to play for and the fans are awesome.
(And my prediction of last year may even come true if Jagr returns to the Steel City.)
If Pittsburgh doesn't make the playoffs, they will have a long break to get rested, get healthy and reflect on the past two seasons. The Penguins will also get a proper training camp and preseason this coming fall.
These guys have too much talent and dedication to the game to not be a better team next year.
I hope they make it to he playoffs this year, and I am sure they will win one (if not more) Stanley Cup Championships in the next five years.