The Pittsburgh Penguins are officially eliminated from Stanley Cup contention following a surprising loss to the Montreal Canadiens in the qualifying round. Anything short of a championship has been a disappointment for the Penguins in the Crosby era, and some comments the captain made after the loss may spark concern among fans.
Crosby, who turned 33 on Friday, acknowledged after the loss to Montreal that the Penguins’ championship window could be closing.
“With age, it’s a possibility,” Crosby said, via Wes Crosby of NHL.com. “But I can only speak personally. Obviously, I would’ve liked to stay a little bit healthier and play a full season.”
As Crosby alluded to, injuries were an issue for him this season. He appeared in just 41 games and had 47 points, which was his lowest total in seven years. Evgeni Malkin, who is 34, and Kris Letang, who is 33, were also banged up a bit this season. Head coach Mike Sullivan isn’t concerned about what any of his three core players have left in the tank, however. Sullivan said:
“I think these guys are still elite players. I believe in this core. They’re elite hockey players, and I still think there’s elite play left in them. So that’s just what I believe. Obviously, at some point, everybody’s window closes. So you could argue that with any team in the League. But I strongly believe that this group has a lot of elite hockey.”
The Penguins have won three championships with Crosby, Malkin and Letang, and mid-30s certainly isn’t old by NHL standards. Health will be the biggest factor for the team going forward, but there’s no reason to think they can’t win another Stanley Cup.