With 31 wins and a 2.23 goals-against average, Marc-Andre Fleury has the best chance among individual players of writing his name into the team record book.
By Dave Molinari / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
The Penguins earned 83 of a possible 116 points out of their first 58 games this season. • That would be an exceptional achievement under ideal circumstances; doing it while losing 351 man-games because of injury and illness makes it a bit more than remarkable.
Winning the Metropolitan Division is pretty much inevitable at this point, and they appear to be headed for a second consecutive Eastern Conference championship appearance, as well.
Of course, nothing the Penguins accomplish between October and April will matter if they again fizzle in the playoffs but for now, they are in the midst of one of the most impressive regular seasons in team history.
And they just might end up with the numbers to prove it.
They registered a significant feat with a 5-1 victory Wednesday at Buffalo — it was their 40th victory and came in Game No. 57, easily the fastest any Penguins team has reached that milestone — and have a legitimate shot at erasing some pretty striking numbers from the franchise record book.
The marks they have a shot at surpassing, or at least matching, if they finish well include:
Standings points: (119, 1992-93). It’s a bit of a long shot, but the Penguins can match this total — which was made possible by a league-record 17-game winning streak as the regular season was winding down — by going 18-6 (or its equivalent) in their remaining games.
Victories: (56, 1992-93). Winning 16 of the 24 games left — that’s 66.6 percent — hardly is out of the question for a team that has victories in 68.9 percent of its games so far.
Fewest goals allowed: (188, 1997-98). The Penguins have given up 138 (including one for their shootout loss Friday to the New York Rangers), an average of 2.38. Allow 49, an average of 2.04, the rest of the way, and the record is theirs.
Power-play conversion rate: (26 percent, 1994-95). Improving on their league-best average of 25.4 percent won’t be easy, but the gap they’re trying to close really isn’t that great.
Penalty-killing success rate: (87.8 percent, 2011-12). Although they slipped to second in the NHL after giving up two power-play goals Friday to New York, their 87 percent kill rate isn’t that far off the team’s best pace.
Among individual players, goalie Marc-Andre Fleury might have the best chance to scrawl his signature in the franchise record book several times if he plays well during the stretch drive.
He has 31 victories (Tom Barrasso, 43, 1992-93), four shutouts (Barrasso, 7, 1997-98), a 2.23 goals-against average (Barrasso, 2.07, 1997-98) and a .919 save percentage (Ty Conklin, .923, 2007-08).
But for as well as the Penguins — and some of their most prominent individuals — have performed through the first 58 games, there are some team and personal single-season records that simply won’t be touched in 2013-14.
Those marks, and why they’re in absolutely no danger:
Goals: Mario Lemieux, 85, 1988-89. Crosby, who leads the Penguins with 28, would have to average 2.38 in the remaining 24 games to catch him.
Goals (team): 367, 1992-93. Including one for each of their four shootout victories, the Penguins have 186. They would have to get 7.54 per game the rest of the way to match the output of the team from 21 years ago.
Assists: Lemieux, 114, 1988-89. Crosby will have a terrific season if he finishes with this many points, let alone assists. He’s on pace to get 71.
Points: Lemieux, 199, 1988-89. Not in 2013-14. Not ever.
Penalty minutes: Paul Baxter, 409, 1981-82. If anyone’s going to top that, he had better plan on taking at least a major and a misconduct in every game for the balance of the season.
Shots: Jaromir Jagr, 403, 1995-96. Crosby leads this team, and is on a 267-shot pace.
Power-play points: Lemieux, 80, 1988-89 and 1995-96. There’s no guarantee anyone on the current club will finish with even half that many; Crosby’s team-leading rate would get him 39 or 40.
Short-handed goals: Lemieux, 13, 1988-89. The entire roster has combined for two, one each by Brandon Sutter and Olli Maatta, so far.
Power-play goals (team): 119, 1988-89. And people think the Penguins’ current power play, which has generated 48 goals, is scary.
Players with 100 or more penalty minutes: 15, 1988-89. Only four players have made it even halfway to triple figures.
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