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Metropolitan Division (NHL)

Changes Coming as Penguins Get Eliminated

Penguins Head Coach Mike Sullivan. Photo by Michael Miller. (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en)

The Pittsburgh Penguins were shocked in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers by losing 2-0 to the Montreal Canadiens on Artturi Lehkonen’s game-winning goal with 4:11 remaining in regulation. It was assisted by Paul Byron and came off of Kris Letang’s turnover in front of the net.
Shea Weber scored an empty-net goal with 32 seconds remaining in regulation to put Pittsburgh’s season on ice.
The Penguins season ends in utter disappointment again. They have lost their last nine-out-of-ten postseason games and Pittsburgh is going to have make some changes this offseason.
Playing on his birthday, Sidney Crosby almost scored a power-play goal in the third-period which would have given them a 1-0 lead, but it ranged off the pipe. Other than him, the Penguins seemed to lack energy in this game.
Tristan Jarry made 20 saves for Pittsburgh while Carey Price made 22 saves for Montreal. Both teams’ power plays were 0-for-2 in the game.
Up next for Pittsburgh will be a chance to land Alexia Lafreniere in Monday’s NHL Draft Lottery at 6 p.m. Eastern on NBCSN. They have a 12.5 percent chance to land the number one pick. He is from the Rimouski Oceanic in the QMJHL. The last time they landed the number one pick was in 2005. Sidney Crosby was that selection and was also playing for the Rimouski Oceanic.
Head Coach Mike Sullivan’s and General Manager Jim Rutherford’s jobs should be safe, but Sullivan maybe forced to switch power play coaches. Mark Recchi could lose his his jobas the Penguins power play struggled, especially in this past series. One possible candidate is Gerad Gallant who was fired from the Vegas Golden Knights earlier in the season. Peter Laviolette, who was fired as the Nashville Predators head coach earlier in the season, could be a good fit as well, but I don’t know if he would fit the team chemistry.
Assistant Coach Jacques Martin should be safe as well as he does a very good job with the penalty kill, thought it seemed like a mistake when they let go of Rick Tocchet a few years ago to the Arizona Coyotes after they won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017.
Some of the Pittsburgh Penguins members that could leave in the offseason are: Jack Johnson, Justin Schultz, Kris Letang, Juuso Riikola, Tristan Jarry, Matt Murray, Conor Sheary, Patrick Marleau, Patric Hornqvist, Bryan Rust, Nick Bjugstad, Jared McCann, and maybe some others.
Some new faces that could potentially crack the line up next season (and I will cover them in the offseason) are: Samuel Poulin, Nathan Legare, and Pierre-Oliver Joseph. This is going to be a long offseason ahead for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The championship window for the Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, and Kris Letang era may be closing. But, when one window closes, another one opens. This team may see a lot of new faces at new positions next season.
Next up for the #12 Montreal Canadiens will be the number one seed Philadelphia Flyers with the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs beginning on Tuesday.
Next up for the #5 Pittsburgh Penguins, it is time to figure out how to fix this team in order to win a Stanley Cup in the 2020-2021 season which is expected to begin in December.

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