Take a look back at the upsets and injuries that plagued 2019 for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
In 2019, the Pittsburgh Penguins had a level of success that many teams would have welcomed. However, in Pittsburgh, where the home hockey team has championship expectations, the year was a letdown.
Going back to the 2018-19 season, the calendar year began with many trades. These deals saw players like Derek Grant, Jamie Oleksiak, Riley Sheahan, Derick Brassard, and Tanner Pearson shipped out of town.
This busy stretch for the Penguins led in part to the team’s 44-26-12 (100 points) record. That finish earned Pittsburgh the Metropolitan Division’s third seed, which resulted in a forgettable first round sweep at the hands of the New York Islanders.
These stats were not enough to outweigh the poor postseason performance, though, so the Penguins had a busy offseason. The Pens acquired Dominik Kahun, Alex Galchenyuk, and others in trades that saw the team give up Stanley Cup champions Olli Maatta and Phil Kessel. Pittsburgh also signed Brandon Tanev to a large contract in free agency.
The other headline of the offseason came when Matt Cullen retired. A Stanley Cup champion with the Penguins, Cullen brought a locker room presence that would be missed in Pittsburgh.
As the 2019-20 season began, the Penguins suffered a fate similar to that of the Steelers. Injuries have plagued Pittsburgh since October, seeing the likes of Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Alex Galchenyuk, Jake Guentzel, Kris Letang, Justin Schultz, Brian Dumoulin, and more miss time.
Despite the injuries, though, Pittsburgh has remained in a playoff position for the majority of the season.
There are two things that people will definitely remember about the Penguins’ 2019 calendar year: the playoff series against the Islanders and the injuries sustained in the following fall/winter. However, it should also be remembered as the year that improved the team.
Pittsburgh’s personnel had been changed in a way that slowed down the team since the organization last won the Stanley Cup. As the year progressed, though, the Penguins started to look more and more like the 2016 and 2017 teams. When we look back in a few years, 2019 may mark a turning point for Pittsburgh.
What are your favorite Penguins memories of 2019? How do you feel about the team heading into 2020? Leave your comments below!