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Sidney Crosby drops truth bomb on future of Penguins’ core after painful Game 7 loss to Rangers

Penguins, Sidney Crosby, Rangers

Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins had yet another early exit from the Stanley Cup Playoffs after getting eliminated in the first round by the New York Rangers in a dramatic 4-3 overtime loss at Madison Square Garden Sunday night. That loss could end up being a symbolic bookmark for the Penguins franchise that may not parade a lineup that features Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang, who’ve basically become Pittsburgh lifers in the NHL.

After the game, Crosby spoke about what he feels about the future of that triumvirate.

Via Michelle Crechiollo:

Sidney Crosby on the core staying together: “It’s not up to me, but obviously I’ve had a great experience playing with these guys over the years and know what they bring. Love our group.”

Of the three, only Crosby has a guaranteed contract beyond this season. He is still a controllable asset by the Penguins until the end of the 2024-25 season, and even if he’s past his prime now, the 34-year-old Crosby is likely to play out the duration of that contract with the only NHL team he’s ever played for so far in his distinguished hockey career. Meanwhile, the Penguins will have a decision to make on Malkin and Letang, who are bound to become unrestricted free agents in the offseason. Malkin and Letang are both 35, and they certainly don’t fit the timeline of a team that is potentially looking to hit the rebuild button.

Pittsburgh could have tried to move either Malkin or Letang prior to the NHL trade deadline, but the Penguins believed they had a shot at making at least one more Stanley Cup run.

In any case, Crosby is proud of the season the Penguins just had, despite failing to progress past the initial round of the postseason.

More from Crechiollo:

“If you look at our group this year, you look at the guys who had career years and what we had to go through even to get to this point… a lot of people didn’t expect us to get this far, let alone get in the playoffs.”

“But we had high expectations, we battled through a lot and so many guys contributed. I think for all those reasons, we thought we’d still be playing, but it’s tough. We did a lot of good things and guys left it out there.”

The Penguins looked as though they were going to get over that first-round hump when they raced to a 3-1 series lead against the Rangers. Crosby and company throttled New York goalie Igor Shesterkin during that stretch, as they had their way against the Rangers’ defense. Pittsburgh dominated the possession battle throughout the series and nearly had the ticket to the next round in the bag, but just didn’t have enough to overcome the resilient Rangers.

Crosby missed Game 6 with a concussion he sustained in Game 5. He came back to play in Game 7 and made his presence felt by recording an assist on a Jake Guentzel goal on the man advantage in the second period that put Pittsburgh momentarily up, 2-1. As for Malkin and Letang, both players didn’t record a point in the contest, which would be heavier for them to carry if that game eventually turns out to be their last in Penguins threads.