After winning back-to-back Stanley Cups from 2015-2017, the Pittsburgh Penguins have regressed from exits in the second round of the playoffs, the first round, and the qualifying round last season.
Numerous factors play out over the course of a season to determine ultimate team success, but in the case of the Pittsburgh Penguins, the big question for the 2021 season is goaltending. The Penguins were a solid 12th in the league in goals against last season at 2.84 with Tristan Jarry leading the way with a .921 save percentage and a 2.43 goals against average.
The problem for the Penguins is that their second goalie from last year, Matt Murray, who started 38 games with a goal against average of 2.87 is now with the Ottawa Senators. That means that Casey DeSmith, who has 50 career games under his belt, and none last season, is the only other goaltender on the roster.
Tristan Jarry did well last season but has never been a starter in the NHL and the duo has under 100 starts combined, including playoffs, at the NHL level. The issue of inexperience in net is new for the Penguins, considering they have nearly always had an experienced starting goalie on the roster.
Jarry most certainly will be the starter coming into the season, unless the Pittsburgh Penguins pull off a trade at some point. While there were times of great play, there were inconsistencies that reminded everyone that Jarry is far from a seasoned veteran. DeSmith handled the goalie duties well for Scranton/Wilkes-Barres in the AHL last season, posting a goal against average of 2.92.
Can the combo of Jarry and DeSmith hold down the fort? The Penguins have a very powerful offense and can win without elite goalies. However, what you get for a full season with Jarry and DeSmith is anyone’s guess. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out for a team that hasn’t had this much uncertainty in net for many years.