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Crosby, Malkin, and Wins: 2021 Penguins Player Projections

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Pittsburgh Penguins lines with Evgeni Malkin Bryan Rust

It almost doesn’t seem real, does it? There is a surreal feeling to the first steps towards a normal world and the coming 2021 NHL season. We’re just one day away from the first day of training camp for 24 NHL teams, including the Penguins.

Seriously, we’re just one day away from training camp.

From Sidney Crosby goals to Tristan Jarry’s save percentage, it’s time to expand on our season projections from last week and look at the Vegas odds and player projections. As always, let us know what you think in the comments. Beyond the Stanley Cup bet, we haven’t found a casino offering player stat prop bets, so we’ll have to play oddsmaker (but not bookie).

Pittsburgh Penguins odds to win the Stanley Cup: 22-1. 

Analysis: If the Penguins escape the East Division against Boston, Washington, Philadelphia, and the New York Islanders, they will be both battle-tested and probably battered. Our Matt Gajtka thinks the former, while I’ll take the latter.

However, we like the long odds. If you’re a hometown bettor, hover over Pittsburgh Penguins above and dop $10, it will turn into more than $200. Since the Penguins are a heritage favorite, Vegas will move the odds quickly if the Penguins get off to a good start.

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Over/Under: Sidney Crosby 23 goals

In a 56-game schedule, 23 goals would be .41 goals per game. Last season, he scored 16 goals in 41 games, which is .39 goals per game. Factor the Pittsburgh Penguins acquisition of Kasperi Kapanen, which represents a significant upgrade at RW, Crosby should be able to exceed last year’s pace.

If things work out as the Penguins project, Crosby could surpass 70 points and get Hart Trophy consideration. Of course, all of the above would be predicated on being healthy.

In this case, we’re going to take the “over.” Call it a hunch about Crosby.

Over/Under: Evgeni Malkin 48 Games played

Malkin has been a consistent resident of the trainer’s table. He remarkably carried the Penguins through Crosby’s two-month absence last season, but then succumbed to his own significant injury.

Malkin has played 78, 69, and 55 games in the last three seasons, respectively. Excluding 2017-18, Malkin hasn’t hit the 70-game mark since 2011-12.

In this case, we’re going to take the under. Healthy players tend to stay healthy and injured-prone players tend to suffer injuries. Malkin falls into the latter category.

Over/Under: Kris Letang 40 Points, 60 giveaways

Letang is one of the drivers of the Pittsburgh Penguins offense. Last season, he “dipped” to 44 points in 61 games. Not bad for a defenseman, not bad at all. He had 15 points (6g, 9a) on the power play, which was down four from the previous season.

In 2018-19, Letang racked up 56 points (16g, 40a) in 65 games.

The Penguins defenseman will never silence his ardent critics who point to every mistake but prefer to view successes with one eye.

We aimed right for the bullseye with 40 points in 56 games. However, Letang must stay healthy. We don’t project he’ll be able to play 56 games in the East Division (the Central, maybe), so we’ll take the under.

We’ve documented Letang’s turnover rate is in-line or a bit below other defensemen who share similar roles across the league. We’ve done it too many times to count, but here’s one.

If Letang plays 56 games, he’ll eclipse 60 giveaways because he plays 25 minutes per game and the Pittsburgh Penguins third pairing will need a few weeks, or months, to find their sea legs in a new system with new partners. So, much will be asked of Letang and he’ll probably have to play harder minutes, at least in the beginning.

We’ll take the over on giveaways, but not join the small chorus that pounds the table each time

Rapid Fire Time:

Tristan Jarry: 20 wins, .920 save percentage. Tough calls, but we’ll take the over on wins and the under on stops.

Kasperi Kapanen: Projection is 40 points, 17 goals. We’ll take the over.

Bryan Rust: Projection is 16 goals and 40 points. We’ll take the under.

Jason Zucker: Projection should be 44 points and 22 goals. We’re taking the under on both.

Jared McCann: 30 points and 12 goals. We just don’t like where the Penguins third line is headed, unless Sam Poulin is ready to take a spot. So, we’ll take the under on both.

Mike Matheson: 20 points, with five goals. Matheson’s offseason coach Jon Goyens made a strong case for Matheson to rebound with the Penguins. The system fits and Letang is the perfect mentor. Maybe in Season 2, but we think this season will be about acclimation and settling down. Under.

Penguins Wins: It could take a solid 65 points in 56 games to make the playoffs in the East Division. 28 wins are the Penguins’ O/U. We’re going to take….the over, but that’s not a bet we feel good about.

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