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The Fountain of Youth

Jarrett Bailey, Sports Writer

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The Pittsburgh Penguins ended the NHL regular season as the hottest team in the league, winning 14 of their final 16 games, including an 8 game win streak, and locking up the second playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. This may come as no surprise looking at their roster, but before head coach Mike Sullivan took over, this was a team that was on the outside looking in. But, with a new coach, a few key acquisitions, and Sidney Crosby playing like a man possessed, the Pens surged to the top and are now in familiar territory; being feared by all. Now, how did this come to be? I think ROOT Sports play-by-play man Paul Steigerwald said it best; “The Penguins are winning games with their speed and their youth, and Matt Cullen looks like he sipped from the fountain of youth.” Well, Paul, you couldn’t be more right. The 39 year old, 18 year veteran has been playing like a man in his twenties as of late. During this incredible late-season surge, Cullen scored 6 of his 16 goals in the final 20 games, including a 2-goal performance against Washington on April 7th. Cullen was also one of three Penguins to play in all 82 games, his first ironman season since the 2000-01 campaign. The one stage that Cullen really starred was on the penalty kill. He was second on the team with 3 shorthanded goals, just one behind Eric Fehr’s 4. These off-season acquisitions, like Cullen and Fehr, along with the youngsters and guys acquired via trade have been main ingredients in the recipe that is success for Pittsburgh. Combine all that with the incredible play of Sidney Crosby, and Evgeni Malkin and goaltender Marc-Andre Fluery when they are back and healthy, you have a team that can have a deep playoff run. Who can stop this group? I say nobody.

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