Start of the season look: do penguins still have enough to fight

Much like the Washington Capitals, the Pittsburgh Penguins always have their sights set on keeping their Stanley Cup window open. Sidney Crosby remains one of the best players in the world and Evgeni Malkin is not far behind. The only problem ? Both are injured.

The Pens come off a disappointing six-game first-round outing imposed by the New York Islanders last season and are looking to come out of the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2017-18 – the year after returning to -back cup wins.

The core, however, is starting to age and if they have any hope of doing another deep race these guys will have to be at the top of their game.

What has happened so far in 2021-2022 …

The Penguins started relatively strong in their first four games, going 2-0-2. They opened with a decisive message sending a 6-2 victory over the reigning Tampa Bay Cup champion Lightning, and also knocked out Chicago 5-2. The losses, both in overtime, came at the hands of the Florida Panthers and Dallas Stars, two strong teams.

Crosby is recovering from wrist surgery he had in early September and the initial six-week schedule window has since closed, but there is no word on his return. Malkin, meanwhile, has also undergone surgery and is out for at least the first two months of the season. But even without their top two players, they still found ways to win.

Jeff Carter (1-3—4), Brock McGinn (1-3—4), Danton Heinen (3-0—3) and Evan Rodrigues (2-1—3) have significantly improved up front, while John Marino (1-3—4) and Kris Letang (0-4—4) did it from behind. Although Letang entered protocol for COVID-19 on Saturday, his return date is currently unknown. At net, Tristan Jarry (2-0-1, .935 sv%, 1.7 GSAA) was also rock solid.

These are some of the players the Penguins needed to get stronger, and they did. Others like Jake Guentzel, Kasperi Kapanen will also strengthen in due course, especially if the team has any hopes of keeping their heads above water. And that’s exactly what they’ll have to do with Crosby and Malkin out of the roster. If they can muster the ability to stay above .500 without their two superstars, it will build confidence throughout the roster.

Then? Who knows what can happen.

Players to watch …

Carter’s hot start has been nothing short of impressive. In fact, his entire time with the Pens going back to last year when he was acquired has been solid. In 18 regular season games, he scored 10 goals and 15 points with four more goals and five points in six playoff games last year. He seems very motivated and at 37, has clearly plunged into the fountain of youth.

If the Penguins have any hope of making noise this year, Jarry will have to carry the workload in goal. He was good last year with a 25-9-3 record, a .909 save percentage and 1.3 GSAA and at the very least he will have to reproduce those numbers.

What did they do during the offseason?

Notable additions: Brock McGinn, Danton Heinen, Evan Rodrigues
Notable subtractions: Brandon Tanev, Colton Sceviour, Mark Jankowski, Cody This

There has been no major movement during the offseason for the Pittsburgh Penguins. They lost Tanev to the Seattle Kraken, but brought in a player similar to McGinn to help fill the void. Early feedback on some of the new faces, however, has been solid. Can they continue?

This offseason has the potential to completely change the shape of the organization. Malkin’s eight-year, $ 9.5 million AAV deal he signed in 2013 expires, as does Kris Letang’s eight-year, $ 7.25 million AAV deal he signed in 2013. same time.

Other key players will achieve UFA status this year: Bryan Rust, Jeff Carter, Zach Aston-Reese and Casey DeSmith will be looking for new contracts. FRGs like Kasperi Kapanen, Danton Heinen and Drew O’Connor will also need new offers.

According to PuckPedia, they will have around $ 33.5 million of ceiling space to work on.

A bold prediction …

There will be a lot of talk about the Penguins selling at the NHL trade deadline and embarking on a rebuild, but the team will choose to keep stars like Malkin and Letang and try another Cup run. . Ultimately, they fail to come out of the second round of the playoffs.

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