Excluding their most recent win, there's a good explanation why the Pittsburgh Penguins lost 7-2 to the Ottawa Senators in 2006 and a 2-0 to the New Jersey Devils this season without the services of superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Their contributions to the team are irreplaceable.
The duo, worth over $17 million in cap, have been sorely missed because of the offense they generate every time they skate a shift. Even in their most recent win against the Carolina Hurricanes, it has become apparent that there are huge parts of the team missing.
Despite the negatives, the Crosby- and Malkin-less Pens have some good to draw from the absence of the two.
Here are five reasons why the Pens can benefit from having neither Crosby nor Malkin in the lineup.
Laura Falcon is a Featured Columnist for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Follow her on Twitter or email her at email@example.com with any comments or questions.
Being on a team with players like Crosby and Malkin is always a blessing, but can be a curse for forwards who hope to play big minutes in games.
As Jordan Staal consistently improved his game, many claimed he deserved more minutes. On many other teams, Staal would see most of his time on the second line, maybe even first.
However, Staal finds his center position on the Pens behind Crosby and Malkin. Hence, his minutes tend to be less than what he is capable or even deserving.
No Crosby and Malkin means Staal's minutes increase as he becomes the first line center. He also eats up minute by playing on the penalty kill on the team that logs the most penalty minutes.
This will be incredibly beneficial to Staal because, after extensive injury, Staal needed to get himself back into the game as quickly as possible. Logging big minutes will only hasten his improvement and play at a superior level that will continue to do damage even when Crosby and Malkin return.
Staal is the emerging leader on this young Penguins team and giving him more time and responsibility will only further his growth and development as a solid two-way forward and penalty killer.
A morbidly wonderful thing about injuries in the NHL is they usually result in a call-up from the team's AHL affiliate.
For many young players, these call-ups become their first true tastes of the NHL.
It's no secret, the Pens' AHL affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins, is having a record season with the record 34-11. Certain players on the team are having exceptional seasons, thus propelling the team to their success.
There is no better way to reward hard-working players with a short stint in the NHL, giving them a taste of their ultimate dreams while reminding them what they must work on in order to find a permanent roster spot on the team.
Currently, Dustin Jeffrey and Chris Conner are the latest call-ups and Conner has been making a strong case why he should remain in Western Pennsylvania. Jeffrey has been playing solid all-around hockey as well and has scored goals at opportune times in games.
Another positive note about call-ups is their attitude. If this is a hockey player with his head on his shoulders, he won't get cocky but will play with a fire coming from the fact that this is his big shot and should approach the game as a tryout.
A talented hockey player could do some incredible things with that determination to impress the general manager.
Since Crosby's grand entrance into the NHL, the Pens' story has circled around him and how he would revive the franchise with his fresh face and work ethic.
A season later, Malkin was there to help carry the load.
Both Malkin and Crosby became a huge portion of the team identity because of the indelible marks they have forged in the team's rich history. But despite the constant focus around the two players, specifically Crosby, there is more to the team than those two.
Not having Crosby and Malkin gives the team a chance to evaluate how much they depend on their stars and what they can accomplish without them.
Thus far, the Pens are 1-2 without Crosby and Malkin. Clearly they are capable of winning without them.
Long term, this isn't a factor in the team's play, however, losing your top talent gives the team a chance to see that they're something, even without their best players.
Building from the last slide, the search for an identity without Crosby and Malkin requires players to step up to the challenge and improve their game.
Basically, the ability for certain players to rise to the occasion becomes their "new identity."
The Pens have a tendency, and rightfully so, to depend on Crosby and Malkin to lead them to victory each game. However, times like these prove why they can't depend on them too much.
Offense now must be generated from a slew of players, including Staal, Tyler Kennedy, Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis. Thus far, Kunitz and Dupuis have fared well without their center and the nightmare like of Staal, Kennedy and Matt Cooke have been stellar at circulating the puck in offensive zone.
The key is keeping up that tempo for more than just a few games.
This is more than capable for many of these players who have been able to kick their play up a notch in more desperate times, such as the Stanley Cup Playoffs and more specifically, the Finals.
Forcing players who typically aren't racking up points to become key in putting the puck in the net can bring positive results, especially when Crosby and Malkin return.
No Crosby and no Malkin is a nightmare situation for the Pens.
Everyone knows that. Even the opposing teams.
To say that teams don't approach games against the Pens a little more relaxed when they don't have to worry about defensive and offensive assignments implemented whenever either one is on the ice would be a bit of a stretch.
After all, Crosby and Malkin make up a huge bulk of the team's danger.
For the Pens, they can approach their games and simply play knowing that yes, they probably are at a disadvantage and they will be written off because of who they're missing. This allows them to play with nothing to lose.
There's something exhilarating about playing with nothing to lose. It makes it easier to leave everything on the ice, I feel, knowing that leaving everything on the ice is the only way victory could be achieved.
Who knows, the Pens could catch certain teams slacking off on certain shifts. The Canes were guilty of this on Saturday before their almost-comeback.
Winning in this fashion is huge, as the Pens did against the Canes. It gives the team a boost of confidence, showing them that Crosby and Malkin aren't necessary to pull out a win.