The Rink Report: Penguins miss Playoffs for first time in 17 years

Written By Anthony Cugini, Sports Columnist

The Pittsburgh Penguins season came to an end after a loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets last Thursday, summing up a disappointing year for Pittsburgh hockey. The Pens failed to make the postseason for the first time since the 2005-06 season.

In the end, the Thursday game in Columbus didn’t matter. After the Islanders won last Wednesday, New York had eliminated the Penguins from playoff contention. 

Though the Islanders finished the job, the Pens eliminated themselves. With the Wild Card race coming to an end, the Penguins had to win their final two games against arguably the two worst teams in the NHL – the Chicago Blackhawks and the Columbus Blue Jackets.

 In their last home game of the season, the Pens were embarrassed by the lowly Blackhawks by a score of 5-2. There didn’t seem to be any fight from Pittsburgh. Chicago was able to score an astonishing four times in the third period to secure the victory. The Blackhawks’ five goals were the most the team had scored in a game since March 14th.

After a loss in what was most likely Pittsburgh’s worst game of the season, they followed up with an overtime loss to a struggling team in the Eastern Conference. Heading into their game against the Penguins, the Blue Jackets had only managed to win four games since March 1st.

Looking back on the season, it is clear to anyone who knows anything about Penguins’ hockey that changes need to be made. In terms of changes thus far, the organization has fired  team president Brian Burke, general manager Ron Hextall and assistant GM Chris Pyor.

After cleaning house in the front office, Pittsburgh will look to improve on the ice. One big uncertainty that needs to be solved is the goaltender situation — who will be their starter next season? Do the Penguins stick with Tristan Jarry or do they go out and get a proven goalie?

Jarry asked more questions than he answered this year as he was consistently injured and extremely inconsistent. The Pens’ goaltender is an upcoming unrestricted free agent, meaning he can sign wherever he pleases. 

If Pittsburgh opts to cut ties with Jarry, there are plenty of potential candidates to fill the absence. Hurricanes’ goalie Frederik Anderson and L.A. King Joonas Korpisalo are both free agents and could be viable upgrades in between the posts.

Whether the Pens keep their goalie will remain to be seen until well after the NHL Playoffs which, for the first time in almost two decades, don’t include the Pittsburgh Penguins.