Yesterday I shared how the Pittsburgh Penguins season ended in disappointment and why. It wasn't fun to do, as pointing out how your favorite team didn't live up to expectations never is fun.
Well, today we're looking at reasons to have hope for the 2012-2013 season, because there are a lot of positives to takes away from this season.
- Malkin is back to kicking ass: Evgeni Malkin not only won the Art Ross Trophy for most points in the league, but he's going to win the Hart Trophy for league MVP. He scored 50 goals and 109 points. Last offseason he dedicated himself to getting in better shape and getting better at faceoffs, and it showed during the season. If he carries that work ethic over, next year will be a lot of fun.
- Crosby is healthy: Sidney Crosby scored 37 points in 22 games this season. He's sickly good at hockey. You know this playoff loss is going to piss him off. He's going to put in work this summer and come out in October ready to set the league on fire, like he was doing before the concussion that sidelined him for over a year. It's scary thinking about how good this team can be with a motivated Malkin and healthy Crosby. And it won't be like the playoffs this year. Crosby is going to be in shape and won't be disappearing in the third period
- The defense is that bad: Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek are good players. Simon Despres and Brian Strait will be a year older. Like Malkin after last season, I see this group as going into the offseason with something to prove. If they have any pride in their jobs and living up to the big contracts they signed two summers ago, they're going to work their asses off this summer and be the strength they were in 2010-2011.
- Fleury can be great: Last season, this season and the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals have shown us Marc-Andre Fleury can be a great goalie. I'm terrified he is going to take a few months to overcome his terrible playoff performance, but you don't win 40+ games in a season if you're as bad a goaltender as Fleury appeared to be the last two weeks.
- The powerplay: Remember how bad that thing was this time last year? What was it, 1-for-38? It, like the rest of the team, came up short against the Flyers, but now they will have a complete offseason with James Neal, Malkin, Crosby, Kris Letang and another person to work out the man-advantage. If that kind of talent does not result in a top 5 powerplay, something is seriously wrong.
As sad and upset we all are about the early loss, we also have to remember that this team brought us a lot of joy from October through March. Sure, there were down times, but for the most part, it was a great ride and helped me get through living in friggin Philadelphia.
I can't wait until next year.
The Clash - Lost in the Supermarket