By Douglas Smith @DFresh39 on April 10, 2014
It has become habit for the Pittsburgh Penguins to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs. For many of their fans, the results in recent years have been disappointing. The Pens will enter the playoffs as the second seed despite losing more man games than any team in the NHL. With the right attitude many of the team's liabilities in recent years could turn into their strengths as they make the march to the Cup. Talent is not the question; will is.
As mentioned, the Penguins have lost nearly 500 man games due to injuries this season and the second place team in this category has over 90 less games lost. This has included life-altering issues with Kris Letang and Tomas Vokoun. Pascal Dupuis was expected to be a big part of the team and he went down early in the season. The Penguins have powered through that to earn the second seed in the Eastern Conference.
With two games left the Penguins have shown their skill on the power play and penalty kill even with many moving parts. The Penguins will likely finish first in the power play and second in penalty kill. These elements of the game gain heightened importance in the playoffs.
The Penguins are behind only the Boston Bruins for best record against Eastern Conference opponents. They have gone 34-14-4 this year in the Eastern Conference. They are 2-0-1 against Detroit and 5-0-0 against Columbus, which are two likely first round opponents.
It had to be a jolt to the organization when it was announced Kris Letang was returning to the lineup. The plan with Evgeni Malkin seemed to always have him back for the start of the playoffs. The Pens even had the luxury of sitting Sidney Crosby last week and may do that again in their next two games to be ready for the start of the playoffs.
Most of the criticism in recent years has been on Marc-Andre Fleury, and rightly so at times. Even when he makes an amazing save in the regular season a cynic usually follows up with something about Fleury choking in the playoffs. His attitude this season has been great and it seems he knows the weight on his shoulders. The jovial attitude suggests he is ready to carry it.
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