The Pittsburgh Penguins are This Year's Boom or Bust Team

With big contracts up next summer, Crosby and Malkin’s health in question to kick things off and Jarry’s abysmal performance last year, the Penguins need everything to come together perfectly in 2021-22 – but can they?

© Provided by Hockey News on Sports Illustrated Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Before every NHL season, you examine all the teams, and there are teams that you feel good about, and there are teams that you don’t feel all so good about. And I have to say, everybody: I’m kind of worried about the Pittsburgh Penguins this year.

In some ways, I probably should feel good about the Pens. They have two of the game’s best players. They’re coming off a first-place finish in their division. They employ two very capable forward lines and a solid-enough top pairing on defense. Unfortunately, all the aforementioned feel-good-abouts have not led them to a single playoff series win in the past three seasons. 

And as training camp approaches, their two best talents, injured centers Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby will not be available to them as the regular season kicks off, and in an improving Metropolitan division, that absence alone could gravely injure the Penguins. The Pens are one of seven teams Metro teams who could, under ideal circumstances, qualify for the playoffs, then hope they get on a roll to avenge last season’s dismal first-round defeat at the hands of the New York Islanders.

But that’s just it – there are seven potential playoff-threats in the Metro, with only Columbus all but assured to dwell at the bottom of the division’s standings. Yes, the New Jersey Devils may be a longer shot to take one of the four available playoff spots, but if Dougie Hamilton helps them and their group of youngsters flourish, there’s a possibility the and all the others – the Washington Capitals; the New York Rangers; and the Isles; the Philadelphia Flyers; and the Carolina Hurricanes – . That means seven teams are battling for a post-season berth. That leaves very little room for error.

And that’s the issue the Penguins have right now. Crosby and Malkin both needed surgery this off-season: Malkin, on his knee; Crosby, on his wrist. Depending on how much time it will take Malkin and Crosby to return to action, the Pens’ depth down the middle will be severely tested. 

Head coach Mike Sullivan knows the gigantic drop in production from the absence of Crosby and Malkin is not going to be easily remedied. The acquisition of Jeff Carter last season produced good numbers on offense, and Sullivan will turn to him to play bigger minutes, but others will need to step up and attempt to fill a portion of the shoes Crosby and Malkin wear for this team every season. 

Not having Malkin and Crosby around for two-to-four weeks might create just enough of an opening for one of the Penguins’ adversaries to sneak through and punch their playoff ticket at Pittsburgh’s expense.

Or here’s another factor that could prove to be their downfall this season, as it was last year: goaltending. Yes, you can say it was possibly only a one-time meltdown by starter Tristan Jarry when he flamed out spectacularly against the Isles in the first round of the 2021 playoffs. 

But what if it isn’t? With due respect to backup Casey DeSmith, if Jarry wobbles again to start the 2021-22 campaign, DeSmith can’t be depended on to play a full, 50-60-game schedule. (Which is not to say he can’t do it; rather, that he has yet to prove he can.)

And if their goaltending does turn out to have some rot in it, it’s not like Pittsburgh can easily find a replacement. Most teams are now choosing to go with more of a tandem, 50/50 games-played or 60/40 GP approach to their netminding; resultantly, there will be fewer options to acquire and insert right away. Even if they could find a team willing to send them a capable goalie, they don’t have the salary cap space to make it work. Per, Pens GM Ron Hextall has only $121,795 to work with at the moment, effectively taking them out of adding any talent of consequence. (Also, yes, yes I was aware the Penguins will accrue cap space the longer Crosby and Malkin are unable to play. That’s not a situation they should be hopeful for.)

The Penguins’ defense corps is far from the best the NHL has to offer, but they performed well in front of Jarry last year, and in a contract season for Letang – maybe the last big one for the 37-year-old – the Pens might actually develop into a top-10 blueline group. But that’s a very big ‘if’, and nobody should expect Pittsburgh to earn a playoff spot this year with its defense leading the way. 

They need to be the 196-goal club they were in 56 games last year. They are likely to struggle to meet or surpass that number if Crosby and Malkin get back quickly and stay healthy for the rest of the season.

The longer their top two centers are gone, the more I worry about the Penguins. Is Pittsburgh a boom-or-bust team? In some ways, yes; another hard-on-the-eyes playoff series loss, and maybe Malkin decides he wants to play for another team when he becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer. That would be the wheels falling-off scenario, but that’s not as far-fetched as it may appear. 

But hey, maybe I’m wrong here, and the Penguins will win the division again and finally get over their first-round woeful recent history. If anyone can almost singlehandedly put a team on his shoulders, it’s Crosby. But he’s now 34 years old, and all that hard-nosed hockey has taken a toll on his body.

I worry about him, and I worry about the 35-year-old Malkin. Just like I worry about Pittsburgh this year. Time flies when you’re having fun, and the years flew by in Steeltown thanks to fun-makers like Crosby and Malkin. But the end never comes as far away as you want it to come.

Sometimes, the end is closer than you think. And this time around, the Penguins may find themselves at a competitive crossroads.

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related


Family members of Americans detained abroad call on Biden administration to do more

The families of roughly two dozen US citizens and legal permanent residents detained abroad penned a letter to President Joe Biden on Monday urging him to do more to secure ... Read more »

CBP agents cited for "misconduct" in Facebook posts were largely allowed to keep jobs

A Customs and Border Patrol agent posted on Facebook about an infamous 2019 image of a father and son whose bodies washed up on the U.S.-Mexico border. In the post, ... Read more »

Eagles trade Joe Flacco back to Jets after Zach Wilson's injury

The PhilaeEagles are trading quarterback Joe Flacco to the New York Jets, Eagles coach Nick Sirianni confirmed on Monday. Flacco’s tenure with the Eagles lasted seven games without the veteran ... Read more »

Cruising Cards confident, face big test Thursday vs Packers

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — It’s a play that would have haunted the Arizona Cardinals in previous years: Cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. was called for a taunting penalty after a third-down ... Read more »

Former NFL official Carl Madsen dead at age 71

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Carl Madsen, who worked as an NFL on-field umpire and then as a replay official, died Sunday. He was 71. The league confirmed Monday that Madsen, ... Read more »

Packers' resourcefulness will face huge test at Arizona

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — The Green Bay Packers have demonstrated all season they can win games when they’re not even close to full strength. Now they’re about to face ... Read more »

Police: 6 injured, including officer, in Idaho mall shooting

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Police in Boise, Idaho, said Monday that five people and a police officer have been injured in a shooting at a shopping mall. They say one ... Read more »

‘Photoshopped!' Colby Denies Broken Jaw

© Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images Colby Covington says the only thing that needed fixing in the aftermath of his UFC 245 clash with Kamaru Usman is some poor sucker’s ... Read more »

NBA DFS: James Harden and top DraftKings, FanDuel daily Fantasy basketball picks for Oct. 25, 2021

© Provided by CBS Sports Once the Charlotte Hornets gave LaMelo Ball a significant role in the offense last season, they instantly became one of the more entertaining teams in ... Read more »

Monday Night Football odds, spread, line: Seahawks vs. Saints picks, predictions from expert on 25-9 roll

The Seattle Seahawks will continue life without star quarterback Russell Wilson on Monday Night Football. The Pro Bowl quarterback remains on injured reserve as the Seahawks host the New Orleans ... Read more »

Teams Einarson, Gushue advance at Grand Slam of Curling Masters

OAKVILLE, Ont. — Kerri Einarson and her team needed an extra end to advance on the opening day of the Grand Slam of Curling Masters in Oakville, Ont., Tuesday.  Sweden’s ... Read more »

Cardinals designate RHP Justin Miller for assignment

The Cardinals are designating reliever Justin Miller for assignment, relays Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (Twitter link). The move was necessary to create space on the 40-man roster ... Read more »

Beloved children's bookstore Woozles moves out of iconic yellow building in Halifax

© CBC Woozles opened on Birmingham Street in downtown Halifax in 1978. Canada’s oldest children’s bookstore is saying goodbye to its iconic yellow building off Spring Garden Road in Halifax ... Read more »

Path to Trudeau's new cabinet hits final stretch ahead of swearing-in ceremony

OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau’s new lineup of cabinet ministers is intended to signal his government’s sense of urgency to deliver on a half dozen priority commitments, including climate change and ... Read more »

Delonte West made wild claims in troubling arrest video

© MCT Delonte West has a history of mental health and substance abuse issues. Delonte West was arrested last week outside a police station in Florida, and police have released ... Read more »

Stephen Curry named Western Conference Player of the Week

© Provided by WarriorsWire Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry was named the Western Conference Player of the Week for the 17th time in his career Monday. Curry has been ... Read more »

Murray beats Hurkacz in Vienna, 1st top-10 win in 14 months

VIENNA (AP) — Andy Murray earned his first win against a top-10 opponent in 14 months by defeating Hubert Hurkacz 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-3 Monday in the opening round of ... Read more »

Jets with lots to fix after embarrassing dud in New England

NEW YORK (AP) — The New York Jets were fired up coming off their bye-week break, eager to get back on the field and put their woes of the first ... Read more »

Ravens' flaws exposed in blowout loss to Bengals

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — After the past two weeks, John Harbaugh’s point about the nature of the NFL is well taken. “A week ago, you’re being crowned the best ... Read more »

Falcons activate OT McGary from COVID-19 reserve list

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — The Atlanta Falcons activated offensive lineman Kaleb McGary from the COVID-19 reserve list Monday. McGary missed a 30-28 victory over the Miami Dolphins after starting ... Read more »

Korda, Struff, Bublik advance at St. Petersburg Open

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) — American Sebastian Korda advanced to the second round of the St. Petersburg Open with a 7-6 (2), 7-5 win over Nino Serdarušić on Monday. Korda, ... Read more »

Best Buy and Home Depot drop security cameras linked to Uyghur surveillance

According to TechCrunch, Best Buy, Home Depot, and Lowes will no longer be selling security cameras from Lorex and Ezviz after the outlet reported on the brands’ parent companies’ involvement ... Read more »

Macy's early Black Friday deals are here

© Reviewed Macy’s early Black Friday deals are here — Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission. Black Friday ... Read more »

Packers place Davante Adams on COVID-19 list

The Packers have placed Davante Adams on the COVID-19 list, per a club announcement. It’s not immediately clear whether Adams has tested positive for the virus, but defensive coordinator Joe ... Read more »

With 3-4 record, Chiefs need to figure out 1st half slumps

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Chiefs normally lean on the “first 15,” the opening scripted plays in coach Andy Reid’s offense designed to get his team into a rhythm ... Read more »

1,000 Warhol artworks are on sale for just $250 each. But only one is real

An art collective purchased an original Andy Warhol drawing for $20,000 and is selling it to one lucky buyer for just $250. But there’s a catch: The artwork is being ... Read more »

10 Cute Canadian Sweaters For A Cozy Fall

Auto Rotation On Joe Fresh Cable-knit sweater with balloon sleeves, $34, RW&CO. Boat neck pullover with shoulder detail, $80, Oak & Fort Wrap cardigan with tie, $78, ... Read more »

Watch Countdown to UFC 267: Blachowicz vs. Teixeira

© Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC UFC 267 fight week is here! We’ve got ourselves two title fights (well, one undisputed and one interim) on Saturday, October 30th from ‘Fight ... Read more »

Report: Edward Rogers aggressively lobbied Raptors, MLSE to drop Masai Ujiri

Toronto Raptors vice-chairman and president Masai Ujiri was finally re-signed to a multi-year extension on Aug. 5 — much to the delight and relief of fans — following months of ... Read more »

Auburn football coach Bryan Harsin declines to say whether he received COVID-19 vaccine

AUBURN — First-year Auburn football coach Bryan Harsin declined to disclose whether he has received a COVID-19 vaccine Monday. He was asked about his vaccination status in regard to the ... Read more »

Online criteria for Afghan refugee program changes, applies to only those who've fled

OTTAWA — The Canadian government has quietly changed the criteria on its website for a special program for vulnerable Afghan refugees so that only those who have already managed to ... Read more »

Facebook profits rise amid revelations from leaked documents

LONDON — Amid fallout from the Facebook Papers documents supporting claims that the social network has valued financial success over user safety, Facebook on Monday reported higher profit for the ... Read more »

These NYC Fast-Food Locations Were Shut Down Over Health and Safety Violations

Major ghost kitchen operator Reef Technology has allegedly had all of its New York City locations shut down after health officials found the company was operating without necessary permits and ... Read more »

After decorated career, Lloyd will savor final game with US

Reality is starting to set in for Carli Lloyd, who plays her last game for the United States on Tuesday night. Lloyd, who memorably scored three goals in the opening ... Read more »

Sport Kort: Djokovic en Medvedev bij Davis Cup Finals

Blijf zo altijd op de hoogte van al het sportnieuws. Voor het voetbal-, tennis-, schaats-, autosport-, wieler- en dartnieuws hebben we op onze website speciale pagina’s ingericht, waarop de belangrijkste ... Read more »

Dusty Baker has funny way of pumping himself up for World Series

© Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports Dusty Baker and the Astros are taking on the Atlanta Braves in the World Series. Nineteen years after making his first World Series appearance as ... Read more »

Who Will Win the 2021 World Series Hankook Good Sam loan Depot?

© Provided by The Big Lead Carmen Mandato/GettyImages Simple question here from a simple man. Which team is better suited to win the 2021 World Series Hankook GoodSam loanDept? The ... Read more »

Facebook Papers are a ‘call to arms' over pressing need to regulate: MPs

The Facebook Papers make clear the pressing need for governments around the world to crack down and put meaningful regulations on the social media giant, say two Canadian MPs who ... Read more »

New coach Bisaccia leads to new results for Raiders

A new coach has made the Las Vegas Raiders look like a new team the past two weeks. The Raiders went from back-to-back double-digit losses in their final two games ... Read more »

Gasanova saves 2 match points, beats Teichmann in Romania

CLUJ-NAPOCA, Romania (AP) — Anastasia Gasanova of Russia saved two match points before outlasting fourth-seeded Jil Teichmann 4-5, 6-0, 7-5 Monday in the first round of the Transylvania Open. The ... Read more »
On you will find lots of free English exam practice materials to help you improve your English skills: grammar, listening, reading, writing, ielts, toeic