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3 Reasons for Pittsburgh Penguins Elimination From 2021 NHL Playoffs

While things looked promising early for the Penguins with a 2-1 series lead, the Islanders ended up winning in six. Here are 3 reasons why.

A somewhat surprising result happened between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New York Islanders on Wednesday night, as Sidney Crosby and his teammates were eliminated from the postseason in six games. While everyone knew how good the Islanders can be, the majority of fans thought the Pens would win this series based off of how good they were in the regular season.

Despite the Penguins having a 2-1 series lead at one point, the Islanders never quit and went on to win the next three straight. It marks yet another disappointing ending to the season for Pittsburgh, something they have dealt with plenty since last winning the Stanley Cup in 2017. Here are the three main reasons they were knocked off early this year.

Related: 3 Reasons for Edmonton Oilers Elimination From the 2021 NHL Playoffs

3. Crosby’s Struggles

After being extremely reliable for the Penguins for so many years in the playoffs, Crosby has struggled in the postseason lately, and this year was no exception. In the six games versus the Isles, he had just a goal and an assist, which is very disappointing given that he recorded 24 goals and 62 points in 55 regular season contests. While it’s nothing to be overly concerned about given the superstar talent he is, he has managed just six points in his last 14 playoff games.

While some of their other top forwards weren’t great, they were still able to produce more than Crosby. Take Evgeni Malkin for example, who certainly wasn’t at his best, but was still able to put up five points in just four games played. This Penguins team has a chance to be very good against next season, but they will need their captain to be at his best if they want to experience playoff success once again.

2. Undisciplined

Throughout this series, the Penguins were undisciplined, which is something we have seen from them in the past. While their 23 penalties taken doesn’t look so bad, it was the types of penalties they were taking, and the players who were taking them. Both Malkin, along with Kris Letang, made some questionable decisions throughout this series that resulted in penalties, and while their penalty kill wasn’t bad, it wasn’t good enough to bail them all the time.

Evgeni Malkin Penguins
Evgeni Malkin Pittsburgh Penguins

The lack of discipline at times throughout this series was both frustrating and surprising given that during the regular season the Penguins were 21st in the league for penalties taken with 155. Unfortunately, that changed in the playoffs and was part of the reason they were unable to advance to the second round.

1. Jarry Jitters

While head coach Mike Sullivan said they both win as a team and lose as a team, that was likely more to avoid throwing his goaltender under the bus than anything else. To anyone who watched this series, it was clear that Tristan Jarry was the main reason the Penguins were eliminated. Management elected this past offseason to keep him and move on from Matt Murray, and while it didn’t seem like a crazy decision at the time, you have to wonder if they are second guessing themselves right now.

Jarry struggled from the opening puck drop of this series, and likely should have been replaced by Maxim Legace, who was in the lineup over Casey DeSmith due to the latter having a lower-body injury. In their six playoff games, Jarry posted an ugly 3.18 goals against average along with a .888 save percentage. His brutal performance was highlighted by an awful turnover in overtime of Game 5 to give the Islanders a 3-2 series lead. It is very possible the Penguins move on from him this offseason and look to find a replacement via free agency or a trade.

Time Running Out

While this doesn’t feel like the end of the line for the Penguins core group, time is running out. With players like Crosby, Malkin, and Letang all getting older, another Stanley Cup for this group is looking less and less likely. If they do want another chance to win it all with this core, they will have to both add some scoring depth to the lineup and look to find some help in the crease. If not, they may find themselves in trouble in the first round yet again next year.

Next: Taylor Hall Says He Wasn’t Holding Out to Join Boston Bruins at Deadline



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