This conclusion comes from an interesting analysis made by Adam Gretz on the PensBurgh.com blog. 

In every sports league we have a period of time of one or a small group of teams ruling above all others. In the present, the Patriots are having the time of their life in the NFL since 2001, before them the 49er’s had that honor. At the height of a great run fans tend to think the dynasty will last forever, but more often than not a small change can break the whole system and the empire crumbles down faster than expected, usually known as “the crisis”. 

This happens when dynasties run at the pace of legendary players or managers, once they leave or begin to weaken its game over. For the Patriots that would be Bill Belichik and to a lesser extent Tom Brady. 

During the NHL salary cap era there has not been a true dynasty. As Adam puts it:

The Los Angeles Kings won two Stanley Cups in three years.

The Chicago Blackhawks won three in six.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have won three (with a fourth appearance in the Stanley Cup Final) in 10 years.

Three teams share 8 Stanley Cups since the salary cap began, and before that another eight of the previous 10. While these three teams have shared the crown, two of them no longer are the shadow of what they used to be at the top of their game, the Blackhawks and the Kings. 

After winning their second Stanley Cup in 2014, the Kings have missed the playoffs more often than they’ve made it. The few playoffs they have played have not been won, and they just wrapped one of their worst seasons this 2018-19 with the worst record in the league.

The Blackhawks have missed the playoffs in the past two seasons and failed to win them after their last Stanley Cup win in 2015.

The Penguins seem to be en route to this same path in the long term after winning the cup in 2017. The team is beginning to struggle and depend more and more on key players Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, both of which may not remain on the team much longer and their game skill begins to decrease. 

Take a look at the Penguin stats during the last two years; back-to-back Stanley Cup’s, to a second round exit, to a first round sweep after barely making it to the playoffs during the regular season. 

Reviewing NHL betting lines at 888 sportsbook, The Pens are not even in the top 10 favorites to win the Stanley Cup. 

It’s hard to the stay at the very top, especially in the NHL. What’s surprising is how fast and hard they fall the higher they climb in this league. 

Will the Penguins hit rock bottom at the Blackhawks and the Kings have? The trend is a down trend, and a sharp one. While the core players of Crosby, Malkin and Letang remain we might see a few more seasons of the Pens battling in the playoffs. It certainly looks that while the decline is inevitable, it might not be as fast and hard as the King’s or Blackhawk’s. 

The Pens definitely have a better rooster than what the King’s had during the winning streak. The Blackhawks demise seemed to be related to poor management decisions than the players themselves. 

It will be harder for the Penguins to win another Stanley Cup in the following years, but it might still happen as Crosby, Malkin, Letang and Kessel still have some seasons left in them. 

What could help a lot is learning from the King’s and Blackhawk’s mistakes. 

The Kings maintained their defensive style of play with 2-1 wins with a rooster that wasn’t overly skilled or deep. The Blackhawks had a better rooster and style, but made some poor decisions getting rid of key players while keeping the wrong ones. Injuries also stabbed them in the side (Crawford’s and the demise of Marian Hossa’s career). 

Age, decreasing stats, and not a single trade the Penguins can make this summer to restock could reverse the situation. It will take a bit of luck and inspiration for the Pens to aim for another Stanley Cup next season. 

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