Here are some numbers for you:
05-06 22 46 14 244 316
07-08 47 26 08 247 214
The top numbers represent the first year after the strike...Sidney Crosby's first with the Pens. That year the team won 22 games, lost 46, had OTLs of 14...scored 244 goals and had 314 goals scored against them.
The second set of numbers is from the 81 games played THIS year. With 47 wins, 26 loses, 8 OTLs...247 goals for and 214 goals against.
I show these numbers because I want to demonstrate a point that some people may be missing.
The Penguins are thought of as an offensive team....Crosby, Malkin, Hossa (now), Sykora, Malone, Gonchar...all contribute to that notion...as all have certain offensive talents.
But what most people don't see is that the Penguins have become a pretty good defensive club too.
When you look at these two sets of numbers, the thing you notice most is that the wins and loses have switched place, and the GOALS AGAINST has dropped by about 100.
100 is a big number when we are talking about goals in the NHL.
A lot of things go into this difference.
Some of it is explained by the lower scoring in general this season...the Pens 247 goals this year is actually a lot higher (percentage wise when compared to the rest of the league) than their 244 was back in 05-06.
But the rest of it seems to be attributed to better goaltending and better defensive play in front of the goalies.
So, although the Pens certainly have the firepower to put goals on the board...they also seem to have the ability to stop other teams from scoring as well.
And that is something you need when it comes to playoff hockey.