When you are a team led by Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the result of your season is only going to fall within a certain set of outcomes, all of them positive. Even though they lost Jordan Staal, and even though Crosby and Malkin both missed time with injury, the Penguins had an excellent regular season, finishing atop the Eastern Conference. They made it to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they ended up losing to the Boston Bruins. Not a bad result, even if their performance against the Bruins was somewhat poor, and even though a seemingly easy series against the Islanders was more difficult for them than was anticipated. However, since they traded for guys like Jarome Iginla and Brenden Morrow at the trade deadline, and because they have arguably the two best players in the world on their team, and because things always get blown out of proportion by the media, this was considered a huge disappointment worthy of rending your garments in anguish over.
Hey, guess what? The Penguins are fine. Crosby is great. Malkin is great. Chris Kunitz won't be as good, but he will be good. So will James Neal. Young forwards like Brandon Sutter and Beau Bennett may contribute more. On defense, they still have Kris Letang, and they brought back Rob Scuderi. Plus, we've heard plenty about the Penguins' defensive prospects, so a rich team may get richer.
The one area of genuine concern is goaltender. Marc-Andre Fleury just isn't all that good. He's not as bad as he was in the playoffs, but he is, at best, a league average goalie. Tomas Vokoun is slightly better than that, but he is also up there in years. The one thing that could stand in their way in their netminding.
I'm not talking standing in the way of the playoffs, however. I am talking standing in the way of winning another Stanley Cup. The Penguins are one of the best teams in the league. I need not mention their talent again. They are good enough to eke into the postseason with an empty net all game every game. With somebody in net, I expect them to win their division, and they could easily have the best record in the East. I don't know if I would consider them the favorite to win it all, but I just might. They are certainly one of the few true favorites to win it all. This is the inevitable outcome of having Sidney Crosby on your team.