2013 Stanley Cup Playoff Team – Pittsburgh Penguins
They’ve endured a captain with a broken jaw, a scoring champ with a bum shoulder, a top-flight defenseman with a broken foot, and two power-play leaders sidelined for weeks with upper body injuries. The Pittsburgh Penguins have overcome these conditions and then some to soar to the front of the NHL Eastern Conference pack, securing the No. 1 seed and home-ice advantage at the Consol Energy Center throughout the 2013 NHL playoffs. Sidney Crosby is, thankfully, free of the concussion syndromes that stole the better part of two seasons from him and NHL fans everywhere. He is, however, still sidelined after a slap shot to the face shattered his jaw and knocked out some teeth. Before his injury, Crosby led the Penguins to a near-historic 15-game winning streak. His teammates haven’t simply maintained in his absence. They have flourished.
Helping with these happy returns are four key trade-deadline acquisitions by GM Ray Shero. Captains of their former teams, Jarome Iginla and Brendan Morrow have added veteran savvy and scoring punch to an already potent lineup. Defenseman Douglas Murray and deadline-day pickup Jussi Jokinen have further balanced out the roster with near-immovable toughness and faceoff acumen, respectively. The Penguins have amassed a 22-2 and record, a half-season mark over this shortened schedule that shows how consistently good and versatile they have been. Only allowing 34 goals over their last 20 games, the Penguins now have the defensive mentality to compliment their multi-line firepower. Crosby, yet to return to the lineup after a month off, still leads the league in scoring. That’s how good he is, and that’s how good the Pittsburgh Penguins are and can be in the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The NHL playoffs aren’t won on paper or in the regular season, but the Penguins have proven they’re willing and able to beat anyone, anywhere at the rink.