The 2015-2016 season was memorable for the Pittsburgh Penguins and their fans. While many may think that raising the 2016 Stanley Cup Champions banner ended an extraordinary year for the Penguins, our potential for success should still frighten other competitors. The Penguins went into the playoffs last year as a threat, and came out as Stanley Cup Champions. During the first half of the season, this goal was unreachable. However, a coaching change and the acquisition of skillful players, allowed the Pittsburgh Penguins to become a dominating force in the National Hockey League.
As fans, our expectations are the same every year. We want the Penguins to not only make it to the playoffs, but also win the Stanley Cup. A new year offers new challenges, and the Pittsburgh Penguins have set the standard for what needs to be done in order to win a Stanley Cup. Here are the keys to a Pittsburgh Penguins cup repeat.
1. Fast Offense
Coach Mike Sullivan gave this team an identity that was desperately needed in order to shape the Penguins’ style of hockey. Creating a fast team is what made the Penguins’ offense an overall threat. Beating teams to the puck, getting in on the forecheck, and having a fast transition game, is what ultimately overwhelms the opponent. The Pittsburgh Penguins execute this style of play very well, because they live up to the identity that was created for them.
2. Tight Defense
The Pittsburgh Penguins have struggled in the past with their defensive play throughout the season. This becomes obvious when the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin, and our goalie is let out to dry. However, playing tight defense that involves blocking shots, taking away passing lanes, and having an aggressive forecheck, is what wins hockey games. The Penguins are a hard team to play against, because they incorporate these methods into their game plan.
3. Team Unity
While the structure of play is an important aspect in any hockey game, it is also important that the team playing is unified. Coach Mike Sullivan not only created an identity for the Penguins on the ice, but also in the locker room. He challenges each player to hold themselves accountable for their own game, and to remember the teammates who rely on them. This atmosphere allows the players to share a common goal, and work together to achieve that goal.
One of the best characteristics that Coach Mike Sullivan instilled in the Pittsburgh Penguins was resilience. You could argue that this characteristic was what won the Penguins’ the Stanley Cup during their 2015-2016 season. Continuing to be a resilient hockey team, will put the Penguins in another promising position in the standings. Whether it is coming back in the third period or winning the next hockey game, resilience defines a hockey team.
5. Taking It One Game At a Time
Focusing on one game at a time can be difficult for a hockey team with high expectations. However, focusing on the moment you are in and making the right adjustments along the way, is what leads to a well rounded hockey team. This idea allows a team to refine the details and style of their game along the way. Overall, this will lead to less mistakes and a team with chemistry.