How close are the Penguins to becoming the Blackhawks or Kings?

Dynasties don’t always fade away. Sometimes they just crumble and collapse into a smoldering pile of ruin that cannibalizes itself and everything around it.

Sure, we sometimes throw the word “dynasty” around in sports a little too loosely, and I admit I am probably doing that here for the purpose of this argument, but hey … I needed a starting point. Even though NHL’s salary cap era has not produced a true “dynasty” comparable to the likes of the Edmonton Oilers, New York Islanders, or Montreal Canadiens, there have been three teams that have stood out above the pack and achieved a level of success no other team has come close to matching.

The Los Angeles Kings won two Stanley Cups in three years.

The Chicago Blackhawks won three in six.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have won three (with a fourth appearance in the Stanley Cup Final) in 10 years.

Those three teams have combined to win eight of the Stanley Cups in the salary cap era, including eight of the previous 10.

While none of them on their own qualify as a true “dynasty,” they have still been the defining teams of this era.

Two of them, the Blackhawks and Kings, are already in the smoldering pile phase of their franchise progression.

The Kings have missed the playoffs more than they’ve made them since winning their second Stanley Cup in 2014, have not won a playoff series, and just wrapped up a 2018-19 season where they spent the year competing with the Ottawa Senators for the worst record in the league.

The Blackhawks have not won a playoff series in three years since their 2015 Stanley Cup win and have missed the playoffs in each of the past two seasons.

Is this sort of bleak stretch in the Penguins’ future? Well, the long-term answer is most certainly yes, it is, because Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are not going to play forever, and there is going to come a point even when they are playing that they may not be able to carry the team to the playoffs. Hell, you don’t have to look far to see the track the Penguins have been on the past two years, going from back-to-back Stanley Cups, to a second-round exit, to a first-round sweep after clinching a playoff spot in Game 81 of the regular season.

That is coming down from the top of the mountain, friends, and there is nothing wrong with that. Nobody stays at the top forever, and at least if you are a Penguins, Kings, or Blackhawks fan you have a bunch of banners to show for it.

As the old saying goes: Banners hang forever.

But how close are the Penguins to truly falling to the bottom and living in the reality that Blackhawks and Kings have spent the past few years in (and maybe the next couple, at least)?

It will happen at some point, but I’m not sure the Penguins are there just quite yet.

First, even though the “core” of Crosby, Malkin, Letang, etc. are getting older, I feel like they have more of a graceful decline ahead of them than the core players of the Kings and Blackhawks.

The Kings’ core really wasn’t that impressive to begin with, was it?

Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty are great — but that was about it. Their run of championships was never one that was built on skill or remarkably deep rosters. It was built on suffocating, systematic defensive work and hoping that Jonathan Quick could catch fire for a couple of months and rise above his otherwise mediocre track record as an NHL starting goalie. I’m not saying the Kings were frauds as champions (they were a legitimately great for three years!) but they just didn’t seem to have the type of roster that was set-up for long-term, sustained success over a decade or so.

Once their handful of high-level players started to slow down, there wasn’t much left around them to make up for it. When a player like, say, Dustin Brown loses a step, he doesn’t have much else to fall back on.

The Blackhawks are a little tougher to get a read on on where things went so sideways for them.

Corey Crawford’s health issues over the past two years have definitely had a negative impact on their overall performance, and when you lose a really good starting goalie and don’t have anyone to fall back on, that is going to create a lot of problems. I also think a lot of the Blackhawks’ problems are a little self-inflicted in the sense that they stayed too loyal to the wrong players (see: Seabrook, Brent) and made some irrational decisions based on one bad postseason result (trading a first-line player like Artemi Panarin to bring back a lesser player in Brandon Saad — one that they were, again, probably staying too loyal to because of the team success).

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By: Gretz

These 5 Active NHL Players Will Never Win a Stanley Cup

Written by Joseph Tucciarone at The Sports Quotient

Throughout all of sports, a player’s positioning in the sport is all based on how many championships he/she wins. Winning is the true definer of where a player ranks in the realm of their sport. When the greatest players are talked about, the ones put at the top of the list have usually won a championship.

For those players that haven’t won, they are still talked about as some of the best, but often get edged out for the likes of those that have a championship ring. When Dan Marino retired, he led the NFL in completions, yards, and touchdowns. He is often talked about as a top-10 NFL quarterback, but the one blemish on his career was his inability to win a Super Bowl. With just one win, he could have been considered the greatest of all time.

Just like every other sport, hockey players are ranked the same way. Some of the NHL’s best players have never won, let alone come close to winning, a Stanley Cup.

Adam Oates finished his career with over 1,000 assists and lost two finals. Pat LaFontaine joined the New York Islanders the year after their fourth Stanley Cup in a row and lost in the finals going for their fifth. He never came close to returning again. The most unfortunate circumstance is for Marcel Dionne, the NHL’s number six all-time leading point scorer. Playing on mostly bad teams during his career, Dionne played 18 seasons in the NHL and never made it past the second round of the playoffs. Despite all of his accomplishments, he is the greatest NHL player that has never won a Stanley Cup.

Whether it be bad luck, bad teams, or an inability to win the big games, there are a multitude of reasons why a player never wins a championship. For the players playing today, as well as future ones, the goal is to win the Stanley Cup. A championship victory puts them in an elite class of people, but at the same time, takes them out of a group no player wants to be in.

Here are a few active players that are seeing their chances of winning a Stanley Cup dwindle further every year:

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The Disappointments of the NHL Season

Written by Joseph Tucciarone at The Sports Quotient

As the NHL season surpasses the first-quarter mark, many people like to look back and point out the positives of the season so far. By doing this, it allows fans and NHL enthusiasts to decide what direction their team or favorite player is going. But with success, there have also been major disappointments that have gone unmentioned.

Most of the talk so far this season has been over the new 3-on-3 overtime, the rookie surge, and the rise of some bottom dweller teams. These are all justifiable and exciting conversations, but there has been too much left unspoken and here is a run-down.

1. Stanley Cup Contenders in a Free-Fall

Last year’s Stanley Cup Champions are not off to the hottest of starts. As of now, they are clinging to the first spot in the Western Conference Wild Card, but they are nowhere close to being the team they are capable of.

Despite having a top-10 power play, the Blackhawks are struggling on the penalty kill. A strength of theirs in the past, they currently rank 18th in the league with a success rate of 79.0% and have allowed 13 power play goals in only 22 games. A big reason for this could be the loss of Johnny Oduya. Oduya was one of the best defensive-defensemen the Blackhawks have had over the years and they were forced to trade him for salary cap purposes.

Besides the failures on the penalty kill, the Blackhawks lack secondary scoring.Patrick Kane is having a MVP year with 34 points in 22 games and Artemi Panarin is leading all rookies with 23 points, but after that there’s a huge drop off in points. The Blackhawks continuing success has come from a consistently deep roster. This team can’t compete for the Stanley Cup again if they aren’t getting contributions up and down the lineup.

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NHL 2015-2016 Preview: Stanley Cup Pick

Written by Robert Zeglinski at No Coast Bias

Finally we get to cream of the crop for the new NHL season.

2015-2016 Stanley Cup Final: Blackhawks over Lightning in 7

You see the picture above? There is no reason to believe that we don’t see Jonathan Toews hoisting it yet again in June 2016.

The Blackhawks face some major personnel losses from this past Cup run like Brandon Saad, Brad Richards, Patrick Sharp, etc. However a lot of these aged players were on the precipice of having peaked or on a downward slope (except Saad) where you could really look at their last run with the Hawks as the last time they could be considered viable in the same fashion.

Chicago got a necessary reload in turn with new forwards like the 20 year old Marko Dano (who will be called up soon) the 23 year old Artemi Panarin (the “Bread Maker”), and the 27 year old Artemi Anisimov. A guy like the incoming 21 year old Teuvo Teravainen, is also expected to have a much bigger role, as one of the future superstars the Hawks possess. It should be also interesting to see if KHL transfer Victor Tikhonov can crack the lineup and provide an extra punch on that 3rd line.

It also wouldn’t be out of question to swing a trade at the deadline for someone like Kyle Okposo from the Isles to help effectively load up for a repeat once all of the new youth and players are ingrained with what the Hawks do.

On the defensive side, you face the prospect of developing top prospects like Victor Svedberg, who was praised highly by TSN’s Bob McKenzie, and the eventual call-up of the organizations’s top defensive prospect, Ville Pokka. Pokka won’t be down in the minors for long whether he’s ready or not, as the Hawks have plenty of aspirations to repeat thanks to development of someone like him.

Another key defensively will be defenseman Trevor Van Riemsdyk, who looks to stay healthy after a disastrous injury riddled first year, to be a necessary steady defenseman for Chicago on any pair.

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