PITTSBURGH — There's a significant change in the Eastern Conference playoff landscape this year.
For one, it's the first time since Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby's rookie seasons in 2005-06 that Pittsburgh will not be in the playoffs. Their failure to clinch a spot ended a 16-year run, the longest in professional sports.
It's also the first time since 2007-08 that both Ovechkin and Crosby will not compete for the Stanley Cup.
That's a significant chunk of NHL history, and the Penguins and Capitals combined for four Stanley Cups during that span.
Pittsburgh's fate was sealed on Tuesday thanks to a shocking loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Locked on Penguins podcast host Hunter Hodies cautions Pittsburgh fans not to place the blame on Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, or Kris Letang, but rather on management for not putting the accompanying parts around them to get the job done.
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The Capitals had been tied with Nashville for the second-longest playoff streak, and they were eliminated well before Pittsburgh.
Locked on Capitals podcast host Dan Holmi discussed the myriad of injuries this team faced and how that factored into their overall outcome, and also which players should get dealt in the offseason and which players they should prioritize in returning.
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It signals a changing of the guard in the East, specifically the Metropolitan Division. The Carolina Hurricanes have been pretty good for a few years, and the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers are well on the rise.
It came down to the wire between the Penguins and the New York Islanders, with the latter doing just enough to get it done.
Still, the Penguins held their fate in their own hands and just needed to beat the Blackhawks and the Columbus Blue Jackets to get in.
Changes could be coming for this team this summer, with the core three players under contract for two more seasons and time running out to win another Cup.
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