Pittsburgh finished their 50th regular season last Friday evening with an even 100 points. This was the 11th-best team in Penguins franchise history based on converting their raw standings points to simple adjusted points per 82 games. This allows a fair comparison between today’s era and past seasons when shootouts and overtime loss points did not exist.
Last season in the Pensblog, we presented the methodology for converting raw points from any season to adjusted points. It is not rocket science: regulation and overtime losses earn zero points and all games that reach a shootout earn one point. The table below shows all 50 Penguins seasons ranked by adjusted points per 82 games. Note – blue represents lockout-shortened seasons and the grey (1997) represents the median.
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As soon as the celebration from last year’s parade finished up, everyone in the Penguins community started drawing parallels between the upcoming 2017-18 season and the vaunted 1992-93 team a quarter-century ago and the possibility of a Stanley Cup Triple Crown. Indeed, that nearly-mythical Presidents Trophy-winning club from 25 years ago tops the list of best regular seasons in team history, but their chase for three championships in a row got David Volek’d in overtime of Game 7 of the second round.
Speaking of 1993, pause for a moment to celebrate this day in history April 9, 1993, when Mario Lemieux, of course, rose to the occasion, leading the Penguins to a record-breaking 16th win in a row with a 5-goal game at Madison Square Garden. Lemieux’s 63rd, 64th, 65th, 66th and 67th goals led the team to a 10-4 win over New York and the following night at Civic Arena, the Penguins would beat the Rangers again to establish the still-standing NHL record of 17 consecutive wins.
- The 2017-18 Penguins set a franchise record with their 12th consecutive playoff appearance, the longest active streak among all NHL teams. Since the playoff format expanded to 16 clubs in the spring of 1980, Pittsburgh is the 10th franchise to qualify a dozen seasons in a row. Detroit and St. Louis top the list with 25 straight modern-era playoff appearances.
- Pittsburgh converted 26.2% of their power play chances to lead the league and establish a new franchise record, topping the 25.9% mark achieved by the 1995-96 club. To put into context how effective the Penguins have been with the man-advantage, no club has reached such a power play percentage in a non-lockout season since the 1989-90 Calgary Flames (27.7%).
- Goal-scoring depth: In 2016-17, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel and Patric Hornqvist each scored 20+ goals along with Conor Sheary. This season, the Big 4 and Jake Guentzel each hit 20 again to give the Penguins five 20-goal scorers in consecutive seasons for the first time in 24 years.
- Matt Murray, Tristan Jarry, Casey DeSmith and Antti Niemi are the first quartet of goalies to start at least three games in a season for the Penguins since 2003-04 when Sebastien Caron, J-S Aubin, Andy Chiodo and Marc-Andre Fleury teamed up to help the Penguins secure the draft rights to Malkin.
- Crack open an Iron City Light in honor of Pittsburgh Hockey Net who compiles a lot of streak data, and Kessel who is quickly moving up the list of Penguins iron men. Despite the late-season injury suffered against Montreal two Saturdays ago, Kessel persevered and once again skated in every scheduled game since joining the Penguins. Kessel has played in 692 consecutive regular season games, 246 in a row with Pittsburgh. Ahead on the team list are Malkin (254), Nick Harbaruk (276), Jordan Staal (302), Ron Schock (313) and Craig Adams (319).
- Taking into account regular season and playoffs together, Kessel is also rapidly moving up the Penguins combined list of consecutive games played. Keseel has appeared in the aforementioned 246 straight regular season games and played in all 49 playoff games over the past two springs, a total of 295 straight contests. If the Penguins get by the Flyers, there is a good chance Kessel will pass Malkin (303) in the second round. Kessel will have to wait until next year to get to the top of the list, even if Pittsburgh plays the maximum number of playoff games this spring as Ron Schock (328) and Jordan Staal (358) are both more than 28 games ahead.