The hurts have piled upon star players and grinders, in the early season and in the most important moments. According to ManGamesLost.com, the Pittsburgh Penguins are the second most injured team in the NHL since 2010, yet they’re also most one of the most successful teams in that span with a pair of Stanley Cup banners to prove it. But this season is different on a lot of levels.
Adversity can sink a team or it can galvanize it. The axiom posits, “the hotter the fire, the stronger the steel.”
The start of the 2019-20 Penguins season may also be the ultimate palette cleanser. The previous Penguins season ended with a quiet thud. Questions and wonders about the future permeated the team. Such things aren’t always washed away with the Scope and Listerine shoved into Phil Kessel’s locker after Pierre McGuire asked about his breath.
The Penguins opponent Wednesday night is Tampa Bay Lightning, who has been honest about the lingering effects of their Round One four-game dismissal. Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper told reporters, “I’d be lying if I didn’t think there was a burden carried over.”
The Penguins had the same high hopes and crushing defeat. The Penguins also had a sluggish start to the season including a flat opener. Social media was full of echoing sentiments, “This looks like last season.” The Penguins offseason upheaval combatted the stench which the loss created, but it was still a pressing topic through training camp.
“It’s always in the back of your mind how things ended,” Penguins defenseman Erik Gudbranson said.