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10 games in: The Penguins’ starting record in context

This season start is one of the slowest of the Penguins’ modern era.

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Pittsburgh Penguins
Evan Rodrigues chases the puck against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Oct. 23, 2021.
Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

For the first time since Sidney Crosby made his NHL debut in 2005, the squad has only seen one game played between the two-headed monster of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin combined through the first ten games of the season.

It’s already been a strange campaign. From the jump from playing in an Eastern Conference-bubble to battling the entire league, to the COVID-protocol absences of everyone from the captain to the head coach, to the team earning multiple goals from a player just last season was considered retired, 2021-22 is off to a weird start.

The Penguins have four wins through their first 10 contests. How does that compare to the team’s season starts through the era of the shootout (circa 2005-06)?

Penguins 10-game records by season (shootout era)

Season Record through ten games Final record Final division ranking
Season Record through ten games Final record Final division ranking
2021-22 4-3-3 ? ?
2020-21 5-4-1 37-16-3 1st of 8
2019-20 6-4-0 40-23-6 3rd of 8
2018-19 6-2-2 44-26-6 3rd of 8
2017-18 6-3-1 47-29-6 2nd of 8
2016-17 7-2-1 50-21-11 2nd of 8
2015-16 6-4-0 48-26-8 2nd of 8
2014-15 7-2-1 43-27-12 4th of 8
2013-14 7-3-0 51-24-7 1st of 8
2012-13 7-3-0 26-12-0 1st of 5
2011-12 6-2-2 51-25-6 2nd of 5
2010-11 5-4-1 49-25-8 1st of 5
2009-10 9-1-0 47-28-7 2nd of 5
2008-09 5-3-2 45-28-9 2nd of 5
2007-08 5-4-1 47-27-8 1st of 5
2006-07 7-3-0 47-24-11 2nd of 5
2005-06 1-4-5 22-46-14 5th of 5

Let’s look at the bright side: we’re not watching the 2005-06 Penguins, who won just one of their first ten contests. That’s a hole that’s hard to climb out of. This season’s Chicago Blackhawks, who started the season with a 1-8-1 record, dropped nearly out of playoff contention on many betting sites— and there were still 72 games left to play.

It’s true that this is the fewest wins the Penguins have recorded through the first ten games since their dismal 2005-06 campaign.

And it means they will enter November toward the bottom of the Metropolitan Division.

But it’s impossible to look at these numbers divorced from the fact that the team has been missing it’s top two centers nearly the entire time, while also dealing with varying absences from its starting goaltender, third-line center and top two defensemen. If these top players return for consistent stretches soon, will the Penguins be able to make up for lost ground?