In a stunning turn of events, the Pittsburgh Penguins‘ remarkable 16-season playoff streak has come to an end. The New York Islanders’ victory over the Montreal Canadiens meant that the Penguins’ final game of the season would be meaningless in terms of playoff qualification. This marks the first time in 17 seasons that the Penguins will be absent from the postseason.
Despite the disappointing outcome, the team saw some exceptional individual performances throughout the season. Future Hall of Famer Sidney Crosby tallied 33 goals and 58 assists for a total of 91 points in 81 games. Evgeni Malkin also contributed significantly, with 27 goals and 56 assists for a total of 83 points in 81 games, while Jake Guentzel added 72 points in 77 games.
However, the Penguins faced several issues that ultimately led to their playoff miss. Depth scoring was a significant problem, with only eight players on the roster surpassing the 30-point mark during the season. Additionally, the team’s goaltending situation left much to be desired. Tristan Jarry posted a 2.90 GAA and a .909 SV%, but his inconsistency due to injury hampered the Penguins’ chances. Backup goaltenders Casey DeSmith and Dustin Tokarski both recorded GAA averages above 3.00 and lost more games than they won.
This outcome signals the end of an era for the Penguins, one of the oldest teams in the league, and marks the first time that the star trio of Kris Letang, Sidney Crosby, and Evgeni Malkin will miss the playoffs. The three players have enjoyed an incredible journey together, winning three Stanley Cups along the way.
As the Penguins move forward, the future of the team and the direction it will take under General Manager Ron Hextall remains uncertain. Many fans have voiced their displeasure with Hextall’s tenure, and the team’s failure to make the playoffs this year will only amplify those concerns.
Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals also missed playoffs, marking the first time that has happened in a very long time as well.