NHL

'Think about how sick that run was' – Penguins' 16-year streak of NHL playoffs appearances is over

By Sports Desk April 13, 2023

The Pittsburgh Penguins saw their 16-season run of appearances in the playoffs end as the New York Islanders put a halt to the longest such streak in the NHL.

Losing 5-2 to the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday took the Penguins' fate out of their own hands, and the Islanders squeezed in as the last team to book a playoffs spot when they beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-2 a day later.

Coach Mike Sullivan's Penguins team have a 40-31-10 record for the season, and they will round off their campaign against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday.

Beau Bennett spent four years on the Pittsburgh team and was a Stanley Cup winner with the Penguins in 2016, the second of three NHL championships the team won during their remarkable 16-year run.

With the team's fate sealed, Bennett wrote on Twitter: "I mean people will probably be negative but think about how sick that run was. Most orgs will be lucky to have that success in 50 years."

Superstar center Sidney Crosby continues to hit the heights, managing 33 goals and 58 assists in 81 games, while Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang have maintained their own high standards. Pittsburgh's 'Big Three' have famously featured throughout the 16-year run.

It was put to Bennett that the Penguins could have gone on achieving, given their top players continued to perform.

He replied: "True but 16 years of consistency, having 3 of the best players the whole time, interchanging everyone else including coaches and management. Sometimes we take greatness for granted."

Bennett said there had been "definitely some suspect moves", with general manager Ron Hextall's rush of trades before the deadline having come in for scrutiny.

Bringing in the likes of Nick Bonino, Dmitry Kulikov and Mikael Granlund, while moving others out of the franchise, has not had the desired effect.

After those trades, Hextall said: "I think that we made our team better. I think there are a lot of teams capable of winning the Stanley Cup, and we're one."

Not this season.

As Bennett sees it, Pittsburgh's elimination now spares them hurt later along the line.

"Let's be real here," he added, "how far are they getting if they get in? All good things come to an end."

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