So… Remember around this time a week ago when I wrote the Penguins only needed to focus on the here and now?
Well they’re taking the here and now to a whole new level. They have gone from the “Here and Now” Pens to the “#YOLO” Pens.
They’ve won 18 of their last 22, and they’ve done it in every fashion you can think of. Better yet, in their current eight-game winning streak, they’re out-scoring their opponents by a total of 40-18.
That’s a five-goal-per-game clip, which makes it even more incredible considering defenseman Ian Cole actually told Robert Morris men’s hockey head coach Derek Schooley, “We might need to borrow some of that scoring over at the Penguins” during a radio interview in November.
The Colonials were scoring near that same average at the time with the nation’s top power play at 31.4 percent. They later hosted the Three Rivers Classic and won on the Pens’ home ice a few days after Christmas, two weeks after head coach Mike Sullivan was hired.
Since that collegiate tournament the Pens are 31-10-9 with a goal differential of plus-51. Clearly the kids left more than a little something behind for the grown folks, including their vernacular. And the “old guys” are following suit, regardless of the situation.
What do you do when you lose your second-leading scorer for 14 games? This team has gone out and racked up a 13-1 record since Evgeni Malkin’s upper body injury on March 11. #YOLO
How do you react when your starting goaltender is shelved with his second concussion of the season? This team’s backup, Matt Murray, steps in for Marc-Andre Fleury and posts a .930 save percentage with an even 2.0 goals against average and a shutout, winning all four games he’s started in the month of April. #YOLO
How do you respond when you’re down by three goals in two different games in seven days? This team launched a comeback in both games, coming from behind to beat Buffalo, 5-4, in a shootout, and Ottawa, 5-3. #YOLO
What is the script when you blow a three-goal lead on the road to the President’s Trophy winner with home ice advantage for the first round of the playoffs on the line? The team captain takes a stretch pass from one of his alternates, and the league’s hottest two-man tandem of Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang teams up for the game-winning goal in overtime. #YOLO
Right now there’s no challenge this team can’t answer, no loss they can’t overcome and no situation that has forced them to lose their composure. But expect different scenarios in the playoffs; different matchups and consistently stiffer competition.
All the same, regardless of the situation, I would expect this team to look at each other, shrug their shoulders and say, “#YOLO.”
After all, it’s probably most applicable during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the time of year when it will benefit them most.