The Pens are playing with house money

Tonight, the Penguins begin their title defense. If they win the cup for the third straight season, they will become one of the greatest hockey dynasties of all time. If they lose, at least they've had the last two seasons.

The Flyers seem to think differently. "They won back-to-back championships, so I think there's more pressure on them than us," said Philadelphia defenseman Radko Gudas. 

There shouldn't be any pressure on the Penguins at all. If they win, they'll be the first team to win the cup three straight seasons since the Islanders did it in the early 1980's. That would add to the legacies of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. 

But Crosby and Malkin are already surefire hall of fame members. Their legacies are cemented.

If the Penguins lose, they'll have lost to the Flyers. That always sucks. But you can't win every year. Not even Gretzky or Lemieux's teams were able to do that. 

It's possible, maybe even likely, that the Penguins won't win it all this year. If that's the case, Penguins fans need to deal with it rationally. 

Mike Sullivan has yet to lose a playoff series as the Pens' coach. Sidney Crosby has won the Conn Smythe trophy in back to back years. Phil Kessel has scored 45 points in 49 playoff games while wearing the black and gold. Matt Murray won the cup twice (!!!!!!) as a rookie. 

These Penguins have bought themselves the benefit of the doubt. I want them to win it all. Part of me thinks they'll do it. But even if they don't, this group has given us so much already. The pressure should be off. 

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

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