Pittsburgh Penguins find stride, momentum heading into stretch

Watch out NHL, because the Pittsburgh Penguins have finally found their groove a little over halfway through the season.NHL

As of this publication, the Penguins sit only two points out of the last Wild Card spot.

The Penguins currently have 64 points, and trail the Boston Bruins, who have 66 points.

Why am I happy that the Penguins are almost in a Wild Card spot, while expectations say they should be one of the top in their division?

With an ugly start to the year under Mike Johnston, the Penguins were bottom feeders in the Eastern Conference.

Now, under new head coach Mike Sullivan, this team has clawed its way back into playoff contention.

In my opinion, there are many reasons why Penguin fans should be excited that they can make a late season run.

First, this team has continued to battle without three of their top centers: Evgeni Malkin, Nick Bonino and Eric Fehr.

Continuing to win and battle teams without these players shows the resiliency that this Penguins team has suddenly found as of late.

Under Mike Sullivan, this team has come alive and played with a spark that wasn’t seen in the first half of the NHL season.

Finally, Sidney Crosby has come to play once again, and it has been marvelous to see him become his old self again.

After an All-Star snub, it seems as if Crosby has used that as motivation to go on a tear in the past weeks.

Crosby has looked explosive and has been abusing opposing goaltenders with ease in almost every game.

Also coming alive are Kris Letang and Phil Kessel, who have been just as hot as Crosby.

These three players have played a huge part in the Penguins’ recent success, but there are two other players that have had a huge impact as well.

Carl Hagelin came to the Penguins in a trade from the Anaheim Ducks, where the Penguins shipped a struggling David Perron and Adam Clendening.

Hagelin has struggled this year as well, but has seemed to find his stride with the Penguins.

While he may not be tallying up the goals, he has racked up the assists and pairing him with Phil Kessel has given the Penguins arguably the fastest line in the NHL.

Trevor Daley came over from the Blackhawks in exchange for Rob Scuderi, and Daley has been the puck-moving defenseman the Penguins sorely lacked.

In fact, Scuderi was recently waived by Chicago, while Daley has had great success in Pittsburgh.

Once the Penguins become fully healthy, oppsosing teams need to watch out for this team.

If the Penguins can claw their way back to Wild Card contention without some of their top players, just imagine what they can do with a full roster.

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