A half-decade ago, the Pittsburgh Penguins seemed to be on the brink of becoming a dynasty. They had just won the Stanley Cup for the first time in the Sidney Crosby/Evgeni Malkin era and had been to the Stanley Cup Final two consecutive seasons.
With a young, talented core group of players that was only going to get better, more Cup parades in Pittsburgh seemed like a given. A presumed result from landing top-end players like Malkin, Crosby and Kris Letang.
None of that has come to fruition though. The Chicago Blackhawks have become the NHL's most consistent franchise, while the Penguins have struggled to close out lesser teams in the playoffs. The New York Rangers became the second team in four years to return from the dead against Pittsburgh, recovering from a 3-1 deficit to win in Game 7 on the road like the Tampa Bay Lightning did in 2011.
Five consecutive tries to win the Stanley Cup since 2009, and the Penguins have been ousted by five lower-seeded teams each year. Those results are unacceptable, and changes are likely coming.
There are several tough choices that need to be made that will have an impact on the 2014-15 season—a season that will feature a new-look Penguins team, according to Dave Lozo. For now the focus remains on this past year and what went wrong.
All statistics appear courtesy of NHL.com unless otherwise stated and are accurate through the end of Pittsburgh's season.