The Pittsburgh Penguins entering tonight on a four game winning streak, have 24 goals over their last four games. Per Jonathan Bombulie of the Tribune-Review, it’s the Penguins “greatest goal output in a four-game stretch since they scored 26 in wins over Edmonton, St. Louis and the Rangers and a loss to Buffalo in March of 1996.”
That 1995-1996 team led by a group of forwards in Mario Lemieux (69 goals-169pts), Jaromir Jagr (62 goals-149pts), Ron Francis (27goals-119pts), Petr Nedved (45 goals-99pts), Tomas Sandstrom (35 goals-70pts in 58 games), averaged 4.41 goals per game, the only team in the NHL to average 4 goals per game that season and interesting enough, 20 years later they remain the last team to average 4 goals per game in a season.
Washington came closest in 2009-2010, averaging 3.82 Goals/G. Unless the salary cap is abolished and a Super team is put together, 20 years from now the 1995-1996 Penguins will likely still be the last NHL team to average 4 goals per game in a full season.
In the Sidney Crosby era, the Penguins have averaged 3.3 goals per/game in a season twice.
3.3 Goals For/G in 2011-2012 when Sidney Crosby only played in 22 games. Pittsburgh averaged 3.38 goals per game in the 2013 lockout shortened season, the highest goals per game average for Penguins’ team since they averaged 3.43 goals per game in Mario’s comeback season in 2000-2001.
Since the 2010-2011 season, the Penguins in 11-12 (3.3 G/G) and 12-13 ( 3.38 in 48 games) are the only NHL team to average 3.3 goals per game in a season.
Latest Three Seasons Goals For/G leaders:
3.23 G/G Dallas Stars 2015-2016
3.16 G/G Tampa Bay Lightning 2014-2015
3.21 G/G Anaheim Ducks 2013-2014
The Rangers currently leading the NHL in averaging 3.45 goals per game, would be the highest mark since the Capitals (3.82) in 09-10.
What tells you everything about the NHL, since the 2007-2008 season, only two teams have averaged 3.4 goals/G or more in a season, the Red Wings in 2008-2009 and the Capitals in the following year.
Pittsburgh through 27 games this season is at those peak scoring Bylsma coached years, averaging 3.37 Goals For/G.
Will this group end up being the best scoring Penguins’ team statistically in the Crosby era?
The eye test says there will be a chance.
The run and gun style isn’t going to change and what is special about this group is their ability to score goals in bunches when they only show up to play for 20 minutes. The Penguins might also be enduring a season where a special player in Sidney Crosby just has one of those years where he performs well above his career marks, that being in the goal scoring department.
And the Penguins fully embracing a skilled/fast fourth line long-term this season, some of what we saw Thursday vs the Panthers, will be a key.
To play devils advocate, though, the Penguins were averaging 2.91 goals/game through 23 games before their best four game scoring stretch in nearly 20 years.
Tonight’s goaltending matchup is the present and future for both clubs, Andrei Vasilevskiy vs Matt Murray.
There’s also similarities on how both situations are playing out.
Vasilevskiy the Lightning’s goaltender of the future got a 3 year – $13.5 million extension in the summer, while Murray signed an extension soon after in October, 3 years – $11.25 million.
As in Pittsburgh where Murray has badly outplayed Fleury this season, Vasilevskiy is also outplaying Ben Bishop whose tenure in Tampa Bay will end after this season.
TBL Andrei Vasilevskiy | 6-2-1, 2.27 GAA, .927 save percentage, 2 shutouts
TBL Ben Bishop | 8-10-1, 2.86 GAA, .906 save percentage, 0 shutouts
PIT Matt Murray | 9-2-0, 1.91 GAA, .934 save percentage, 1 shutout
PIT Marc Andre Fleury | 8-5-3, 3.42 GAA, .900 save percentage, 0 shutouts