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Let’s play some over/under for the 2018-19 Penguins

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NHL: Preseason-Buffalo Sabres at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Finally (and somewhat mercifully) the preseason is behind us and the real hockey games have arrived. While a handful of teams open the 2018-19 campaign on Wednesday, the Penguins will officially drop the puck on the new season on Thursday night when they host the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals. It should be fun!

Overall, this Penguins team has a couple of question marks, but nothing too significant. It is a playoff team, and one that should be considered one of the top contenders for the Stanley Cup, depending on how a couple of individual performances go over the course of the season.

Now that the season is officially here, let’s take a look at a few numbers to try and set some sort of expectation for what is ahead this season.

This is Penguins over/under.

Sidney Crosby: 89.5 Points — While Sidney Crosby remains one of the NHL’s elites and is the type of player that can take over any game, any night, and single handedly carry his team, we have to remember something about him at this point in his career: At age 31 he is probably closer to the end of it than he is to the beginning of it. That seems wild to think about it, but it’s probably true. I mean, he is 31 years old at the start of this season and entering his 14th season in the league. Mario Lemieux retired for the first time at age 31 and after playing only 12 seasons. Granted, Lemieux’s career and early retirement was a special circumstance across the board, but the point remains ... Crosby is beyond the midpoint of his NHL career.

That also means that he is probably not going to put up the numbers that he did 10 years ago, and we have started to see that over the past few seasons. Is he still going to be a top-10 scorer in the league? Almost certainly. But his days as a scoring champion and 100-point threat may be in the rear-view mirror. In the history of the league only 11 players have won a scoring title after turning 31, and only four of those have happened in the post-Original Six era. Along with that, we have also seen Crosby’s point total level off around the 90-point over the past four years, as his production has been remarkably consistent.

2014-15: 84 points in 77 games (89 point pace over 82 games)

2015-16: 85 points in 80 games (86 point pace)

2016-17: 89 points in 75 games (97 point pace)

2017-18: 89 points in 82 games (obviously an 89 point pace).

In other words: He has basically been an 89-point player over the past four years. That is still better than more than 95 percent of the league is capable of producing, and he is still going to elevate the play of everyone around him whenever he is on the ice, but ... the point totals just may not be what they once were.

Poll

Sidney Crosby over/under 89.5 points

This poll is closed

  • 71%
    Over
    (728 votes)
  • 28%
    Under
    (293 votes)
1021 votes total Vote Now

Phil Kessel: 30.5 goals — There probably wasn’t a better, more consistent offensive player in the Penguins lineup a season ago than Phil Kessel as he put together one of the best seasons of his career. Perhaps them most encouraging thing about that performance for what it mean for this season is that he was back to shooting the puck closer to the same frequency that he has throughout his career (he saw a big drop in that area in 2016-17). When combined with a 13.0 shooting percentage, the second highest mark of his career, it turned into a 34-goal, 92-point season, with the latter number being a career high.

Does he have that type of performance in him again? It was only the second time in the past five years that he topped the 30-goal mark, and like Crosby, he is now on the other side of 30 and father time eventually starts to win.

On the same number of shots last season, Kessel’s career shooting percentage of 10.8 would have resulted in around 29 goals.

Can he hit the 30-goal mark again?

Poll

Phil Kessel over/under 30.5 goals

This poll is closed

  • 57%
    Over
    (572 votes)
  • 42%
    Under
    (422 votes)
994 votes total Vote Now

Daniel Sprong: 10.5 goals — The Penguins said all offseason he was going to play and be a part of this team, and quite honestly, it’s time to figure out just what the Penguins have in this guy. But a disappointing preseason performance and injury that is going to sideline him at the start is probably not the beginning anybody was hoping for from the Penguins’ top prospect. There is also the fact that for all of his talent and production at the lower levels, he has been held without a point in 23 of his 26 regular season games in the NHL.

What is he? What is he capable of? What sort of role will he get when he is healthy? So many questions, making him a total mystery at this point.

Honestly, if he scores more than 10 goals this season I would be pleasantly surprised.

Poll

Daniel Sprong over/under 10.5 goals

This poll is closed

  • 54%
    Over
    (539 votes)
  • 45%
    Under
    (448 votes)
987 votes total Vote Now

Penguins’ power play: 25.0 percent — The Penguins power play was just stupid good in 2017-18, and was one of the most efficient units the league has seen in two decades.

Their 26.2 success rate was the second highest in the NHL over the past 20 years (finishing just behind a 26.8 mark from the 2012-13 Washington Capitals — a lockout shortened season). That performance came after a 23.1 percent performance in 2016-17.

A 25 percent success rate is a pretty rare accomplishment, and has only been reached seven times over the past 20 years — the aforementioned Penguins and Capitals teams, the 2017-18 Toronto Maple Leafs, the 2008-09 Detroit Red Wings, and three other Capitals teams during that stretch.

If there is a team in the NHL that can reach that mark again, the Penguins certainly have the personnel on their top units to do it.

Poll

Penguins power play over/under 25 percent

This poll is closed

  • 41%
    Over
    (398 votes)
  • 58%
    Under
    (557 votes)
955 votes total Vote Now

Matt Murray: .920 save percentage — Over the first two years of his career Matt Murray had been a rock in net for the Penguins, posting a .925 save percentage in his first 94 games (regular season and playoffs). Combined with the fact that he was the starting goalie as they won the Stanley Cup in both seasons it was a nearly unprecedented to start a young goaltenders career.

Then in year three everything kind of went sideways for him as he finished with a .907 mark (regular season and playoffs combined). That is a pretty substantial drop. As it stands now he is one of the key players (and maybe the player) that could make or break what the Penguins do this season.

Does he get back to the level of play we saw in 2015-16 and 2016-17?

Poll

Matt Murray over/under .920 save percentage

This poll is closed

  • 52%
    Over
    (516 votes)
  • 47%
    Under
    (462 votes)
978 votes total Vote Now

Penguins’ season point total: 105.5 points — A fairly simple question. Just how good do you see this Penguins team being? A number of variables contributed to a slow start in 2017-18 that put the team in an early season hole, but they were eventually able to crawl out of it and hit the century mark for the fourth time in the past five years (and 10th time in 12 years). They are rested, they are fairly healthy, and they have a much deeper roster at the start of the season than they did at this same time a year ago. Is this a 105-point team? On paper it certainly looks like it.

Poll

Penguins point total over/under 105.5

This poll is closed

  • 56%
    Over
    (540 votes)
  • 43%
    Under
    (419 votes)
959 votes total Vote Now