No current Pittsburgh Penguins player was alive the last time an NHL team won three Stanley Cup championships in a row.
Coach Mike Sullivan https://www.penguinspitfans.co…r-sheary-jersey-c-12.html, 50, was a Massachusetts teenager. General manager Jim Rutherford, 69, was a goaltender for the Los Angeles Kings in 1981 82 while the New York Islanders were on their way to winning their third consecutive title.
“It can be done https://www.penguinspitfans.co…r-rowney-jersey-c-15.html,” Rutherford said. “But you can’t think ahead.”
The Penguins’ quest starts Wednesday when they play the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference quarterfinal in Pittsburgh.
The Penguins haven’t shown the same consistency that they had last spring, but they believe their slightly altered team can be just as effective as they were a year ago.
Here is USA TODAY Sports’ power rankings heading into the first round of the playoffs
1. Nashville Predators Boast the NHL’s top goalie, most impressive defensive corps, an improved offense, world class barbecue, an All Star lineup of anthem singers, the NHL’s most experienced GM and a coach who has been to the Stanley Cup Final with three different teams. The Predators have it all going on.
2. Tampa Bay Lightning Coach Jon Cooper’s team has the No. 1 offense 3.54 goals per game and the No. 3 power play 23.9 . Their defensive potential is much better than their numbers indicate. They have stars Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov up front, on defense Victor Hedman and in net Andrei Vasilevskiy . Area of concern? Only 76.1 on the penalty kill, which ranked 28th.
More NHL point projections reflection Golden Knights had me fooled
More NHL playoff format will knock out top teams early
3. Winnipeg Jets The Jets may be the most dangerous offensive team in the Western Conference. Patrik Laine. Nikolaj Ehlers. Mark Scheifele. Kyle Connor. A collection of forwards with big game potential. They are 11 1 0 in their past 12 games.
4. Washington Capitals Nobody is talking about a Capitals team that has played better than had been expected this season. Maybe coming in under the radar is what they need.
5. Boston Bruins Defenseman Zdeno Chara, 41, can impact a playoff series more than any other non goaltender. He’s big, strong https://www.penguinspitfans.com/tom-sestito-jersey-c-13.html, aggravating and highly effective as a one on one defender. The Bruins are a legitimate contender.
6. Vegas Golden Knights Love this expansion team’s moxie and relentless pursuit of the puck. The Golden Knights want everyone to believe they are the underdog this postseason, but the Golden Knights don’t even believe that.
7. Toronto Maple Leafs This is a team deep at forward, average on defense and adequate in net with Frederik Andersen.
8. Anaheim Ducks Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler are at center. With a 10 1 1 record in their last 12 games, the Ducks are the opponent that no one wants to face in the first round.
9. Pittsburgh Penguins Don’t doubt the Penguins. You didn’t believe they would win two Stanley Cup champions in a row Bryan Rust Jersey, either. Sidney Crosby. Evgeni Malkin. Phil Kessel. Kris Letang. Enough said.
10. Los Angeles Kings This team still has plenty of players, including Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty and Jonathan Quick, who understand what it takes to win a Stanley Cup.
11. Columbus Blue Jackets Coach John Tortorella’s team is 13 2 2 in their past 15 games and they play a plucky style that could be effective in the postseason. Defenseman Seth Jones has been a force down the stretch. Their problem is that they don’t have centers that measure up favorably against the league’s best.
12. San Jose Sharks Ranked 13th in goals for and ninth in goals against. The Sharks spiced up their offense by adding Evander Kane at the trade deadline. Martin Jones measures up well in net. It would be a mistake to underestimate the Sharks.
13. Minnesota Wild Ryan Suter’s broken fibula is a major blow for a team that is still trying to establish a winning playoff tradition. They have only advanced to the second round twice in the past 15 years. Feel free to root for Bruce Boudreau to have some playoff success. A likable guy with bad playoff luck.
14. Philadelphia Flyers Claude Giroux deserves to be considered in the Hart Trophy balloting for the job he did in leading the Flyers into the playoffs. Keep an eye on Philadelphia defenseman Ivan Provorov. He is capable of being a difference maker in any series.
15. New Jersey Devils Taylor Hall’s exceptional season has been the primary reason why the Devils are in the playoffs and their rebuilding effort is ahead of schedule. They compete hard, but their best seasons are still ahead of them.
16. Colorado Avalanche Turnaround from the worst team in 2016 17 to making the playoffs is an accomplishment. Forward Nathan MacKinnon was an offensive beast this season. But the Avalanche are missing workhorse defenseman Erik Johnson and goalie Semyon Varlamov because of injuries. It doesn t seem as if the Avalanche are deep enough yet for an extended run.