Before the start of every season we will all make our set of predictions and sometimes they work out, and sometimes they don’t.
As Smooth Jimmy Apollo once said, when you’re right 52 percent of the time you’re wrong 48 percent of the time.
So with that being, let’s go back in time to the start of the 2022-23 season and review some bold predictions that I made about the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Prediction No. 1: The Penguins playoff streak will continue
Well, I am not off to a good start.
For the first time since the 2005-06 season the Penguins were not a part of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, missing by just one point after losing consecutive games to Chicago and Columbus to close out the regular season when everything had fallen into place for them.
While those two games were the final games that got most of the attention at the end of the season for how bad they were, it was honestly far more than that. It was the three games where they blew multi-goal leads against the New York Islanders despite outplaying them. It was losing a 4-0 lead against the Detroit Red Wings and not getting the extra point out of that game. It was goaltending issues. It was Ron Hextall’s flawed roster that had no depth beyond the top two lines after an offseason where pretty much every move went wrong.
All of that added up and managed to outweigh the fact Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin both played all 82 games (for the first time ever!!) and still played at a dominant level.
Prediction No. 2: Kris Letang will have a top-five Norris Trophy season
Another one that did not go as planned,
Of all the core players the Penguins re-signed a year ago Letang was the one I had the most confidence in. The 2021-22 season was one of the best of his career, he is always in amazing shape, and defenders like him tend to age well.
Things started off great in the first half of the season, but he missed some time, had some more health issues and struggled with consistency at times. I still think he is an elite player and expect a big year, but maybe not a Norris level season.
Prediction No. 3: Jason Zucker bounces back and scores 20 goals
Not only did Zucker bounce back and score 20 goals, he actually scored 27 goals and was one of the Penguins’ most consistent and best players.
On any given night you knew no matter what was going on elsewhere, you were going to get a big effort from Zucker and probably a big goal when they needed it.
I honestly do not think it was anything that he did different other than get some better health luck and stay on the ice. His production on a per-game and per-minute basis has been consistent throughout his team in Pittsburgh and with what he did in Minnesota. He just did not stay on the ice enough. This past year he did, and the results showed.
The Penguins did not re-sign him and allowed him to go to the Arizona Coyotes in free agency on a one-year, $5 million contract.
Prediction No. 4: Tristan Jarry re-signs
I guessed something in the neighborhood of four years and $25 million.
He ended up getting five years and $26 million.
So.... pretty close on everything.
I just do not think this was the path anybody expected. Jarry struggled with consistency and injuries again, but he was probably the best goalie option available on the open market and without having to give up a ton in a trade.
Prediction No. 5: Sidney Crosby tops 100 points this season
Crosby was brilliant all season, but fell just seven points shy of the century mark with a 93-point effort. Still great. Still dominant. Still one of the best in the world. But the 100-point mark remains elusive for him at this point in his career.
He is not reached that mark since the 2018-19 season.