The numbers we tried to project...
- Sidney Crosby: 89.5 points
- Phil Kessel: 30.5 goals
- Daniel Sprong: 10.5 goals
- Matt Murray: .920 save percentage
- Penguins’ power play: 25 percent
- Penguins team: 105.5 points
Let’s take a look at how we did.
Sidney Crosby Points (89.5)
Your vote: 71 percent picked over
My thought: I thought based on the past few years he was going to settle into being an 85-90 point player because, well, that’s what he had been for the previous four years and because he is on the plus side of 30. And we all should have been perfectly happy with that because that is still outstanding, elite production, especially with his all-around game.
What he ended up doing: He scored 100 damn points.
Never count out Sidney Crosby, I guess. I do think his days as a potential scoring champion are probably finished, just because players like Nikita Kucherov and Connor McDavid are in their primes and at their physical peaks as NHL players, but he is still going to be a threat to hit the 100-point mark it seems.
Phil Kessel Goals (30.5)
Your vote: 58 percent picked over
My thought: I thought he would get close but was skeptical he would go really far over just because of the age factor
What he ended up doing: He scored 27 goals in 82 games and continued his late season transformation into playmaker Phil. He took a lot of criticism for his play at times, and I think I understand it: He is expected to score goals and a lot of times the “other” stuff you want to see from a top line player away from the puck isn’t there. But he still finished with 82 points, tied for the second best scoring output of his career. Elite skill brings elite expectations and sometimes that can be a bad thing for how a player is perceived.
Daniel Sprong Goals (10.5)
Your vote: 55 percent picked over
My thought: I was going to be pleasantly surprised if he topped the over.
What he ended up doing: Technically he beat the over by scoring 14 goals. But he also scored all 14 of them as a member of the Anaheim Ducks after being traded for Marcus Pettersson. Pettersson, for what it’s worth, had as many points from the Penguins’ blue line as Sprong did as a forward after the trade.
This was always the inevitable outcome here as it just never seemed like Sprong was going to be a fit here.
Matt Murray Save Percentage (.920)
Your vote: 42 percent picked over
My thought: Basically that his play was going to be one of the make-or-break factors in their season.
What he ended up doing: It was a tale of two seasons for Matt Murray. There was the pre-injury Matt Murray (or, perhaps more accurately, the injured Matt Murray) in October and November that had a terrible start and whose production was near the bottom of the NHL. Then there was the return Matt Murray from December 15 on that was one of the best goalies in the league for four months. He ended up finishing with a .919 save percentage. Had it not been for that stupid meaningless game against the Rangers at the end of the season he would have eclipsed the .920 mark. Still, his overall numbers for the season were well above the league average and he has been one of the top goalies in the league for the past four months.
Penguins Power Play (25 percent)
Your vote: 58 percent picked under
My thought: If there was a power play unit in the league that could do it, this is the one
What they ended up doing: There were three power play units in the NHL (Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers, Boston Bruins) that topped the 25 percent success rate and the Penguins ... were not one of them. They still still finished at 24.6 percent, good enough for fifth best in the league. That number still kind of feels like it was a little misleading, doesn’t it? The power play at times looked like a discombobulated mess, they gave up 15 shorthanded goals, and countless chances on top of that. That is nothing new, though. It has always been a high-risk, high-reward power play. The only difference this year is more of the chances going in the other direction ended up in the back of the net.
Penguins Points In Standings (105.5)
Your vote: 56 percent picked over
My thought: I liked the fact they were rested, seemingly healthier, and had what appeared to be a deeper roster.
What they ended up doing: Injuries piled up at a laughable rate at times, the depth was not particularly good in the first half and only improved after the big blockbuster trade to send out Derick Brassard, Riley Sheahan, and a bunch of draft picks for Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann, and the team was maddeningly inconsistent for the entire season. They topped the 100-point mark for the fourth year in a row and fifth time in the past six (the one year they did not during this stretch they finished with 98 points). Pretty solid run.
The thing is, had it not been for a couple of frustrating defeats in late February and March they probably could have topped the 105-point mark. It really just depends on which team shows up on a given night.