Penguins 2022-2023 Season Recap: A Good Season but Still Disappointing

Sidney Crosby #87 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates his 2nd period goal against Dallas in a game in March. Photo Credit:

Throughout the 2022-2023 NHL season, the Pittsburgh Penguins had many ups and downs. By the end of the season, Pittsburgh finished 40-31-11. The Pens ended up being third in the race for two wild-card spots in the Eastern Conference and did not make the playoffs for the first time in 16 years. Ending this streak was a major upset for the city of Pittsburgh and left many devoted fans devastated. 

The Pen’s top-scoring players were Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jake Guentzel, and Rickard Rakell with a combined 124 out of the team’s 261 goals. All of these players managed to contribute over 27 goals each with Penguins top scorer Jake Guentzel getting 36. That top-heavy offense allowed the Pens to score 3.18 goals per game. In contrast, the history-making Boston Bruins had an average of 3.67 goals per game. The Pens’ offense was promising overall, but in the end, it comes down to each game.

While every part of a hockey team is important, one major element is goaltending. Unfortunately, for the Penguins, they often gave up more goals than they scored which led to a disappointing season. The Penguins’ main goaltenders, Casey DeSmith and Tristan Jarry played a collective 68 games and only won 39. They each had a save percentage of over .900 which can be a big factor in many games but it didn’t turn out too well for the Pens. While the goaltending for the Penguins was looking good for the first three months of the season, it all started to go downhill after Tristan Jarry developed a back injury keeping him from playing several games. When DeSmith had to step up,  it did not go as fans would have liked with him losing more games than winning and contributing to the end of a 16-year playoff streak.

Not only were the fans disappointed in the Penguins this year, but so was the team, knowing they could have done better. Shortly after the regular season ended, the Pittsburgh Penguins fired General Manager Ron Hextall, President of Hockey Operations Brian Burke, and Assistant General Manager Chris Pryor. Ron Hextall, who came to Pittsburgh in 2021, had an uneventful run in Pittsburgh and it was not a shocker when the Pens let him go. Hextall had led the Philadelphia Flyers to the playoffs for two years while GM of their team before he came to Pittsburgh. In contrast, the Penguins did not once make it past the first round of the playoffs with him as GM and failed to make the playoffs this year.

If the Penguins are going to make it to the Stanley Cup finals they are going to have to make intelligent decisions and find a management team that can bring out the best in the players. The Penguins have yet to announce who the new GM will be. However, the City of Pittsburgh is optimistic for new players such as Dmitry Kulikov, and a healthy return of Nick Bonino. Even though the Penguins did not make the playoffs this year they still played well and hopefully, the 2023-2024 team will remind Pittsburghers that they live in the City of Champions.