PITTSBURGH - OCTOBER 9: Marc-Andre Fleury #29 of the Pittsburgh Penguins makes a diving save against the Montreal Canadiens at Consol Energy Center on October 9, 2010 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Following last night's aggravating loss, I started to think about whether or not I could actually remember off the top of my head the last time the Pens started the season off with two losses. I remembered they'd lost the first game of 07-08 to the Hurricanes, because I was at the home opener against the Ducks (a win, I might add), and I knew that even before the lockout there were, of course, a few dark starts to the seasons, but I needed to do a little research to find the real answer.
So I limited it to just post-lockout starts, seeing as how practically everything is based on pre and post-lockout, and spent a few minutes looking back on the last few seasons. I discovered 2005 was the last time the Pens dropped two straight (or more) to open up the season, but was also reminded of some other interesting stuff along the way.
Penguins start the season off with two straight wins before losing the third game to the Coyotes. It's also the first time the post-lockout Pens finish the month with more than 10 wins.
Record by the end of the month: 11-3
End of Season: 47-28-7, 4th in East, lost to Montreal in Conference Semis
The Pens open up overseas in Sweden against the Senators, winning the first and dropping the second. They return home to lose to the Devils before picking up their second win of the season against the Flyers in overtime (on my birthday - w00t!).
Record by the end of the month: 5-5-1
End of Season: 45-28-9, 4th in East, Won the Stanley Cup
Pens lose season opener to the Hurricanes but win home opener against the Ducks. The loss-win-loss-win pattern continued until the Pens pieced together a three-game win streak over the Canes, Caps and Rangers.
Record by the end of the month: 6-4-1
End of Season: 47-27-8, 2nd in East, lost to Wings in Stanley Cup Finals
Pens opened up with a win over the Flyers but lost to the Red Wings in the second game. They'd piece together a five-game win streak over the last four of the month and first of November.
Record by end of the month: 6-3
End of Season: 47-24-11, 5th in East, lost to Senators in Quarterfinals
Here's the last time the Pens started the season off with two losses. And actually, it didn't stop there. Mark it nine games in a row without a win, although they did manage to pick up a few points in overtime and shootout losses. The Pens dropped the first game to the Devils, lost the second to the Hurricanes in a shootout and then lost three straight in overtime to the Bruins, Sabres and Flyers. It took until the tenth game of the season for the Pens to pick up a win, doing so over the Thrashers by the final of 7-5 (bonus: Lemieux has two goals and three assists as Pens came back from 4-0 hole).
Record by the end of the month: 1-5-5
End of Season: 22-46-14, 15th in East, did not make playoffs
So what can we take from this?
Rest assured the Pens of 2010-11 are nowhere near the Pens of 2005-06, although I'm sure we'd all happily agree to make room for Mario once more. The 0-2 hole the Pens find themselves in early has at the least provided the team with a few learning opportunities along the way. Let's not forget that the Pens have practically taken on an entirely new defensive corps and each line of forwards is new from last season.
Before fans decide to hit the panic button, let's at least see how things stand by the end of the month.
After all, the 2008-09 Pens had the second-worst franchise start since the lockout, and that ended with a Stanley Cup.