By TOM GRAYTONThe Pittsburgh Penguins have the NHL’s best record since they were swept by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round of the 2016 playoffs.
They are in the midst of a five-game winning streak and are within three points of a playoff spot.
They are still two games behind the Boston Bruins, who won the Stanley Cup last season.
But their record over the past three seasons is anything but great.
The Penguins’ record in the playoffs is 6-5-1 since the beginning of last season, which is tied for the most wins by any team in the NHL over that span.
They have only won one playoff game in those three seasons, a 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders on Feb. 13, 2017.
“We’re very close to being a playoff team, but we have a lot of work to do,” forward Evgeni Malkin said.
“We’ve had some good wins.
We know that we can be a good team, we can play great hockey, but it’s a lot harder than we think.
So, I think we need to get a lot better.”
Malkin has played in just 14 games this season after missing the first seven with an upper-body injury.
He has one goal and three assists in those games.
The Penguins have won three straight, but their playoff hopes are fading.
The last time they lost four straight was in 2010-11.
The team that is 5-5 since the start of last year is not far from the top of the Eastern Conference.
The New York Rangers are in eighth, just one game behind them, but are playing better and are in position to qualify for the playoffs.
Pittsburgh’s playoff hopes have been put on hold for the last two years after the Penguins won the Eastern Division title in 2015-16.
“I think we’ve been a great team, I believe we can still be a great hockey team, and I believe this team is a great organization,” Penguins forward Nick Bonino said.
“The thing is, we haven’t been in that position before, and we haven