From the Press Box: The Next One and The Next Next One

From the Press Box: The Next One and The Next Next One

This article is part of our From the Press Box series.

The Penguins entered this season with the profile of a club that was counting on its top-heavy layer of superstar talent to be a contender in the Eastern Conference.

Through the season's first three months, the Pens floundered outside playoff position due to a combination of factors. First, the experimental pairing of Phil Kessel and Sidney Crosby proved to be an abject failure, as they simply could not find a workable chemistry. In fact, Crosby saw a succession of linemates that didn't click over any prolonged period at the start of this season. Meanwhile, injuries to Marc-Andre Fleury and Kris Letang, not to mention the abrupt end to the career of Pascal Dupuis, threatened to derail the Penguins' season altogether.

Dupuis was a longtime fixture on Crosby's wing, credited by many as the defensive conscience of the Penguins' top line. Undoubtedly, his retirement was a blow to the Pittsburgh captain, who subsequently endured a revolving door of new linemates and saw his productivity slide well below career norms. Meanwhile, Fleury was forced to play behind a defense corps that doesn't possess the depth and quality of most other contending teams. With a lack of offensive support compounding the issue, he was forced to face more shots than usual, and a concussion sent him to IR in December. Similarly, Kris Letang, the club's top-scoring defenseman, also missed time in December, exposing a lack of depth on the blue line. However, both players have returned healthy and productive, which

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Paul Bruno
Paul Bruno is co-host of the RotoWire fantasy hockey podcast, PUCKCAST with Statsman and AJ. He has been an accredited member of the Toronto sports media for more than 20 years. Paul also helps with RW's DFS podcast and is a contributing writer for RW NFL, MLB and CFL content. Follow him on twitter: @statsman22.
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