The Pittsburgh Penguins, led by Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, are a talented team with two of the top point-getters in the NHL. But they will have to fight hard just to get into the playoffs this year. Some say it is because of the "Runners-Up Curse".
The Penguins came within two victories of winning the Stanley Cup last season, but have struggled most of this season. The Penguins and the New York Rangers are now in a virtual tie for sixth place in the Eastern Conference with 72 points.
Last year, there was a lot of talk about a Penguins Dynasty as fans foresaw them winning the Stanley Cup as many times as the Edmonton Oilers in the eighties, the New York Islanders before them, the Montreal Canadiens in the fifties, sixties, and seventies, and the Leafs in the sixties.
Curses have been a part of sports for ages.
In New York there was the "Curse of 1940" for the New York Rangers. In Boston, it was the "Curse of the Bambino" until the Red Sox exorcised it in 2004. Chicago has the "Curse of the Billy Goat." The Ballard Curse of the Toronto Maple Leafs is described in the movie called The Love Guru.
In 11 seasons, only one Cup runner-up, has won a playoff round the next season. That was the 2000-01 Dallas Stars. The others all lost in the first round, if they made it that far.
The Penguins (34-26-6) are on the bubble, in terms of making the playoffs this year.