East Division previews: Has the window closed in Pittsburgh?

J.J. Regan
·2 min read

East Division previews: Pittsburgh Penguins originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The Capitals will be playing in the new East Division in 2021. We are looking at each division opponent leading up to the season.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Key acquisitions

D Codi Ceci, F Mark Jankowski, F Kasperi Kapanen, D Mike Matheson, F Colton Sceviour

Key departures

F Nick Bjugstad, F Patric Hornqvist, D Jack Johnson, F Patrick Marleau, G Matt Murray, D Justin Schultz, F Conor Sheary

Overview 

The key question for the Penguins is whether their biggest issue last season was injuries or if this team is just past its prime? Pittsburgh is 1-9 in its last 10 postseason games and has not won a playoff series since 2018. Mike Sullivan is one of the best coaches in the league, but his staff was all fired last season which is usually the last step before a coaching change is made and general manager Jeremy Rutherford is not shy about making bold moves.

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The offseason was full of those bold moves as Rutherford did everything he could to mix things up and extend the championship window for the Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang Penguins. The problem? I think they got rid of more talent than they ultimately brought in.

Matheson could be a steal, Kapanen may fit well into the top six, but that is not a lateral move with players like Hornqvist, Schultz and Murray gone

Speaking of goaltending, Tristan Jarry had a great season last year, but the tandem is now gone as Murray was traded to Ottawa. It's hard to look at a Jarry, Casey DeSmith tandem and think it is better than a Jarry, Murray tandem even with Murray's injury concerns.

Outlook

Yes, the Penguins still have Crosby, Malkin and Letang, but they had those players last year too and the year before that. Of the several moves the team made in the offseason, I don't see anything I think will suddenly change the trajectory of the team.

Pittsburgh is going to be a bubble team most of the season and I think will ultimately fall just short of reaching the playoffs. In my mind, I think a coaching change is more likely than a playoff berth.

OddsMoney LinePoint SpreadTotal Points
Washington
-106+1.5O 6.5
Pittsburgh
-112-1.5U 6.5