Do the Pens have a shot to win the Cup?


Michael Miller, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

Captain Sidney Crosby looks to lead the Penguins to another Stanley Cup title.

Matthew Szymanowski, Staff Writer

If this question was asked back in early February, I would have answered “no” with little hesitation. At the beginning of the season, the Penguins started off 5-5-1, winning only one game in regulation and every game by one goal.

Now, as the season is about to close, the Penguins are 35-16-3 and tied for first in the East Division.

So what happened? How did they turn it around? Can they actually win the Cup? It’s time to answer some questions.

The biggest key to the offensive success for the Penguins has been their first line. The Guentzel-Crosby-Rust line is arguably one of the best lines Crosby has managed in his career. Rust has put up a career-high 22 goals in 54 games while Jake Guentzel is averaging more than a point per game, scoring 56 points in 54 games. Meanwhile, Crosby continues to dominate the league, scoring 60 points in 53 games. He also has had one of the best defensive seasons of his career, something that will not show up on an already outstanding stat sheet.

Another player that has really stepped up is Jared McCann. McCann missed 13 games this season due to an injury, but that did not stop his production. He currently has 16 assists and 13 goals, seven of which came on the power play which leads the team.

They also have got big contributions from their newly acquired players.

Codi Ceci, a defenseman they signed for one year, has had an excellent season. The 6-foot-2 210-pound defenseman had 71 hits and 69 blocks.

Kaspari Kapanen also has lived up to the hype. The Penguins made a surprising trade by acquiring him from the Maple Leafs in exchange for a first-round pick. A lot of people said he was not worth giving up a first-rounder, but he has had a great season. Though riddled with injuries, Kapanen scored 10 goals and had 18 assists in his 38 games. He also has been a great winger for Evgeni Malkin when they are both healthy.

The goalies have also had solid seasons. Tristan Jarry is 24-9-3 with a save percentage of .911%. Casey DeSmith has been a great number two for Jarry, allowing only 2.54 goals per game with a record of 11-7.

So, can they win it all? In theory, absolutely. The Penguins will square off in the first round against the Islanders, Bruins, or Capitals. The Penguins went 6-2 against the Capitals and the Islanders this season and 3-5 against the Bruins. Obviously, it would be better if they matched up against the Islanders or Capitals, but they have a real shot to beat the Bruins in a best-of-7 season.

If they can get past the first two rounds, anything is possible. The Central Division has been dominated by Carolina, Tampa Bay, and Florida, the Maple Leafs rule the North, and Vegas and Colorado are rolling in the West. However, we do not know how good these teams really are since teams have only played in their division this season.

It is going to be an exciting NHL playoffs this season. Will the Penguins win the Cup? Only time will tell, but with Crosby, Malkin, Letang, and Guentzel, you can never count out the Pittsburgh Penguins.

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