Maybe it's the liberal media's fault. Maybe it's all in our heads. Maybe it's Urkel's fault. No one is really sure at this point. But for some reason, the Pittsburgh Penguins' chances this season have become a contentious point around the blogosphere.
Let's recap real quick.
This all started when the boys at Pensblog got a little agitated about something Sportsnet's Mike Toth wrote. For the record, taking offense to something Sportsnet does is like getting upset about who anchors the 11pm Sportscenter. It's all irrelevant unless it's Scott Van Pelt, so who cares.
After that, Puck Daddy responded by claiming that Toth is totally not out of his mind. Since then Spector has chimed in, the Pensblog responded to PD's response and Sean Leahy attempted to play referee, to name a few contributions.
So this is where we come in. Naturally, we have certain obligations when reporting here at BMR. Mainly, that obligation is to give our own take on something that everyone and their dog writes about. Usually that category of material is limited to season previews, predictions and whenever Mark Messier cries. Many other times, the blogosphere is clogged up with so many stories about a single topic (see: Mats Sundin) that we're almost obligated to pile on. There's no reason to do the back breaking work of trying to empty the trash can when it's spilling over. Instead, it's a lot easier to start piling up trash around it. That's what our job is and this is one of those times.
Anyway. Back to the point at hand; Pittsburgh's chances and our obligatory post on it.
Let's all remember a few key points about the situation. Here come the bullets. It's like a night out on the town with 50 Cent.
- Teams that lose in the Finals usually suck the next year.
- Pre-season predictions don't mean shit and are usually wrong.
- Marian Hossa was the icing on the cake of Pittsburgh's season last year.
- This is a team that everyone picked to challenge for the conference title this time last year.
- They still have MAF in net.
First and foremost, it's standard practice to diss the team that lost in the Finals the previous year. As Puck Daddy pointed out, this has been true in recent years. The only exception is the Flames, who were better the season after they lost to Tampa in the Finals. Remember, they had a whole lockout year to get their legs back.
Second point, pre-season predictions are about as accurate as the weather report. Unless we're talking about Columbus and Detroit, it's impossible to predict where teams will finish. Everyone should chill out and save their breath, but since I know no one is going to listen, I'll save mine.
One of the most overblown points in the history of overblown points is the significance of Marian Hossa. Yes, he's a good player. Yes, he helped the Penguins in the playoffs. He had 26 points in 20 games which is a big contribution. But let's not get crazy here. He only played 12 regular season games for Pittsburgh. The Pens finished second in the conference, mostly no thanks to Hossa. They would have made a run without him. Maybe... Maybe they wouldn't have gotten to the Finals. That's about it.
All this Hossa talk brings me to my next point, which is that everyone picked the Pens to be a top five team in the East at the beginning of last season. Think about it. Did you really believe they wouldn't at least be top five? In the conference you like to call 'the Leastern Conference'? It also means you picked them to do this without Hossa and before we found out that Marc-Andre Fluery could be a viable starting netminder.
So now that the Pens are missing Hossa, Roberts, Malone and a couple other role players are they all of a sudden not a top five team this season?
Give me a break. All those losses do is make them questionable to win the conference. They're still a top five team in my opinion. Maybe the fourth or fifth. But honestly, other than Montreal, who would you put ahead of them? This conference is still wide open. You're living in another universe if you think New Jersey, Washington, Ottawa, the Rangers or Philly are easily outpacing the Penguins at this point. It is possible that a few of these teams could finish ahead of the Pens this year, maybe even likely. But at this point in time, there is not evidence to the contrary.
The Penguins have questions. Can Sidney stay healthy all year? Will Malkin's playoff funk continue on into this season? Can MAF repeat his performance from last year? Will they fall victim to a short off-season?
The funny thing is, every other team in the East has questions like these. Some have more. It's still early. In this year, like every other, predictions don't mean a whole lot yet everybody has them.