At the moment none of us should have any idea as to what type of team the 2018-19 Pittsburgh Penguins actually are. We have seen a wide range of results, different levels of play, hot streaks, cold streaks, big wins, ugly losses, and everything else that could fit in between.
If a hockey team is capable of doing it, chances are the 2018-19 Penguins have already done it over the first two months of the season.
We should be sure of this fact — goaltending is going to play a huge role in what this team does the rest of the way and how much it is able to win.
We know they are going to score a lot of goals. That is what the Pittsburgh Penguins do, and as long as Sidney Crosby Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, Patric Hornqvist, Jake Guentzel, and Kris Letang are healthy and in the lineup they are going to have the ability to put the puck in the net. Getting consistent scoring depth will certainly be important — and the potential for that is there, and it still seems like trader Jim Rutherford has another trade or two hiding somewhere too — but they are going to have the ability to score.
We also know that they are going to have a lot of flaws defensively. The forwards are not great in their own end, the defense after the top pairing is not particularly great, and they are going to give up a lot of shots, chances, and quality chances.
These developments have been true for more than two years now, even going back to the 2017 Stanley Cup winning team that was carried through the playoffs by high-level talent at forward and outstanding goaltending.
They are going to need that type of goaltending again. They did not get it a season ago and have yet to get it this season.
Now that Matt Murray is back in the lineup it leaves coach Mike Sullivan with a big decision to make regarding who gets the bulk of the playing time.