Comparing the Pens to their peers

Ever since the Pittsburgh Penguins were eliminated by the Philadelphia Flyers, all has not been well among Penguins fans. In fact, all has not been well for a while. Remember the "maybe the team should pick a new captain" debacle? The "Sid isn't telling us what we need to know" situation? The "Pittsburgh doctors are ruining everything" conversations? The "Pens should have signed Jagr/not Kennedy/not Martin" complaints? The anger after the Pens were eliminated by Montreal? When they blew a 3-1 lead to Tampa Bay? We've all done it at some point.

Penguins fans have been mad for a while now. Mad at the coach, mad at the players, mad at the executives, mad at the arena, mad at the general manager, etc.

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That's what happens when expectations are high. The Pittsburgh Penguins should be competing for the Stanley Cup each year and, after two-straight first round eliminations and a disappointing loss to the Canadiens in 2010, many people aren't happy. We watched two straight Cup runs in 2008 and 2009 and, after seeing those, nothing less will do.

Sure, 2011 was filled with nightmarish injuries, but 2012 was supposed to result in a long playoff run. But then the Penguins lost in the first round. To the Philadelphia Flyers.

It sucked.

However, taking a step back and looking at the team's overall success over the last few years can be helpful. How do the Pittsburgh Penguins compare to the rest of the league's "elite?"

To make this comparison you have to determine what the word "elite" means. The best teams in the league perform well in both the regular season and the playoffs, so we're going to look at teams that have won the Presidents' Trophy or the Stanley Cup. We figure if you've won one of those two awards in the last five years, you can consider yourselves a pretty good team.

We'll start with the Penguins:

2007-2008: Lost in Stanley Cup Final

2008-2009: Won Stanley Cup

2009-2010: Lost in 2nd round

2010-2011: Lost in 1st round

2011-2012: Lost in 1st round

Obviously those last two seasons look pretty sad. However, how have the other recent Cup-winners performed?

Detroit Red Wings:

2007-2008: Won Presidents' Trophy, Won Stanley Cup

2008-2009: Lost in Stanley Cup Final

2009-2010: Lost in 2nd round

2010-2011: Lost in 2nd round

2011-2012: Lost in 1st round

Chicago Blackhawks:

2007-2008: Missed playoffs

2008-2009: Lost in Conference Final

2009-2010: Won Stanley Cup

2010-2011: Lost in 1st round

2011-2012: Lost in 1st round

Boston Bruins:

2007-2008: Lost in 1st round

2008-2009: Lost in 2nd round

2009-2010: Lost in 2nd round

2010-2011: Won Stanley Cup

2011-2012: Lost in 1st round

Los Angeles Kings:

2007-2008: Missed playoffs

2008-2009: Missed playoffs

2009-2010: Lost in 1st round

2010-2011: Lost in 1st round

2011-2012: Won Stanley Cup

And now the remaining Presidents' Trophy winners.

San Jose Sharks:

2007-2008: Lost in 2nd round

2008-2009: Won Presidents' Trophy, lost in 1st round

2009-2010: Lost in Conference Final

2010-2011: Lost in Conference Final

2011-2012: Lost in 1st round

Washington Capitals:

2007-2008: Lost in 1st round

2008-2009: Lost in 2nd round

2009-2010: Won Presidents' Trophy, Lost in 1st round

2010-2011: Lost in 2nd round

2011-2012: Lost in 2nd round

Vancouver Canucks:

2007-2008: Missed playoffs

2008-2009: Lost in 2nd round

2009-2010: Lost in 2nd round

2010-2011: Won Presidents' Trophy, Lost in Stanley Cup Final

2011-2012: Won Presidents' Trophy, Lost in 1st round

Obviously teams other than the ones we've listed have been Stanley Cup contenders over the last five years, but this is a good representative sample. Out of teams that have won the Presidents' Trophy or the Stanley Cup in the last five years, all have lost in the 1st round at least once and three teams have missed the playoffs entirely at some point (Vancouver, Chicago, Los Angeles.) Many teams have "taken a step back" such as losing in the 1st round after making the Cup Final the year before (Vancouver, Boston, Chicago.) No team has won the Cup twice in the last five years and only the Penguins and Red Wings have made the Final twice.

So while the last few seasons could be considered disappointing, especially considering the expectations, it's important to remember that even elite teams have disappointing seasons. The Canucks, Capitals, Sharks, Kings, Bruins, Blackhawks and even the Red Wings have all had years where they haven't had as much success as they expected to. The thing about professional sports is that every team sets out with the same goal: winning a championship. Some teams are better than others and some teams have higher expectations than others, but only won team can win the Cup each year. That fact guarantees that several other teams and their fans will end up disappointed every single season.

It happens to everyone.

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