Still, as the Penguins flirt with having their 2011-12 season discussed in the past tense, it's difficult to not view this spring as becoming yet another opportunity lost.
Just a few years ago - especially after the Penguins' Stanley Cup victory in 2009 - they were widely regarded as the best possibility for a team dynasty, or something resembling one, in the post-lockout NHL.
They were seen as a group whose young core surely was destined to be torn apart at some point by forces ranging from egos to salary-cap stresses to advancing age, but only after running off a few championships.
However, the Penguins still haven't forged a sequel to that remarkable run of three seasons back, and they will have to defy decades of precedents to have a chance to do it this spring. Only three teams in league history have rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win a best-of-seven series.
And while the Penguins' window of opportunity with this nucleus of talent might not be ready to slam shut just yet, neither is it the gaping opening it was a few years back.
The NHL's collective bargaining agreement expires in September, and even without the uncertainty of how its eventual replacement might affect the Penguins' ability to keep their core intact, most of their key players are starting to approach the end of their current contracts.
Although no one of major consequence is scheduled to become a free agent this summer, Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal have contracts that run out in 2013, while Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Brooks Orpik are on agreements that expire a year later.
Under terms of the collective bargaining agreement in place, all will be unrestricted free agents after completing their contracts. Orpik, 31, is the oldest of the group.
"I'm already looking at how many years you have left, rather than how many years you have in front of you," he said recently. "A guy like [Staal] is probably looking at, 'How many years do I have in front of me?' "
Regardless, any would be free to leave when his contract is up for whatever reason, whether it's to get more money, a more prominent role or simply because he would like to play in a particular city or region.
"While we can, while we have a good overall team, we have to try to make the most of it," said goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who has three years remaining on his contract.
It's possible that, if the Penguins lose their third consecutive playoff series, management will decide a major overhaul is in order and the nucleus will be revamped. But even if general manager Ray Shero decides he wants to hold onto all of his core players, there's no guarantee he'll be able to do that.