The 5 Pittsburgh Penguins Records That Will Be Most Difficult to Break
In the Pittsburgh Penguins' 46-year history, several players have set team records. Some of them have already been broken or may not hold up as new generations of talent rise through the ranks.
However, some of these records will stand the test of time. This is due to factors such as changing styles of play in the NHL or the fact that some players don't see as much playing time as they would have in years gone by.
In addition, we don't know if we'll ever see another player with Mario Lemieux's pedigree in our lifetime.
In no particular order, here are five Penguins records that are mostly likely safe in the history books.
Kevin Stevens' 1,048 Penalty Minutes
Stevens was a talented scorer during his time with Pittsburgh in the 1990s. Most notably, he had more than 100 points in the Pens' 1992 Stanley Cup season and in 1993, when they lost to the New York Islanders in the second round.
However, he was also known for engaging in brawls and delivering big hits.
In fact, in that 1993 season, he suffered a gruesome face injury when trying to check Islanders defenseman Rich Pilon. Stevens needed extensive surgery and his career was never the same after that.
With the NHL's attempts to cut down on questionable hits and fighting—especially as it pertains to head injuries—players will likely be looking to avoid trouble that might cost their team a game or a big lead. The game is also being played differently than it was in Stevens' era.
"I played down low in front of the net. But back then, there was a lot of grabbing and poking and punching and holding," Stevens told Mike Palm of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review in 2011.
"It was a different game than it is now. Whatever I had to do to get away, that's what I was doing."
Tom Barrasso's 43 Wins in 1993
In the 1992-93 season, Barrasso played 63 games in goal for the Penguins and tallied 43 wins. Forty-win seasons have not been impossible to come by since then, but QuantHockey.com reveals that, of the goalies who have hit the mark, most played in at least 60 or 70 games a season.
Martin Brodeur even played 78 games in the 2006-07 campaign, when he had 48 wins.
Lately, Marc-Andre Fleury—the team's franchise goalie—has been inconsistent in goal. When he had 42 wins in 67 games in 2011-12, only one other goalie (Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators) passed the 40-win plateau.
Fleury is in the last two years of his contract and must find his game again to successfully break the record. However, if he continues to struggle, Barrasso's record could still elude him.
It is also too early to say if any of the Pens' goaltending prospects could take over such a sizable workload.
Mario Lemieux's 85 Goals Scored in 1989
While current Penguins captain Sidney Crosby may come close, it's hard to say that even he could break Lemieux's goal scoring record.
The Penguins' owner had many outstanding seasons, but in 1989, he finished the year with 85 goals.
Wayne Gretzky and Brett Hull, the only two players to score more goals in a season, played during the 1980s and 1990s, when the game had a more offensive approach.
Hull had 86 goals in the 1990-91 season, while Gretzky set the NHL's single-season goals scored record with 92 in 1981-82. The Great One also had 87 goals two years later in 1984.
Scoring has been trending downward since the lockout that wiped out the 2004-05 season. After it peaked at 2.91 goals per game in the 2008-09 campaign, it has been down in the last four years.
The shortened 2013 season did not help, as less time to prepare for the regular season left teams hurting for offense. The result was an average of 2.72 goals per game, as noted by Hockey-Reference.com.
Alexander Ovechkin scored 65 goals in the 2007-08 season, but no other player has come close to Lemieux's record since.
Can someone in a Penguins uniform do it or will today's players see their careers unfold in a more defensive-minded era?
Paul Coffey's 113 Points in 1989
In the same year that Lemieux was lighting the lamp, Coffey was adding to the scoresheet on his own. He registered 113 points that year. Since then, only former New York Rangers blueliner Brian Leetch has hit the 100-point mark with 102 in 1992.
But it's not like anyone hasn't tried.
Nicklas Lidstrom had 80 points with the Detroit Red Wings in 2005-06 and 2012 Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson had 78 with the Ottawa Senators. Offensive defensemen are still a commodity in the NHL and are often awarded with the Norris or spots on an NHL All-Star Game roster.
However, in today's game, defensemen are staying true to their role to protect the defensive zone, which leaves less room to score goals and pad their points total.
Other factors include a more even distribution of talent and puck-carrying defensemen running the risk of getting caught out of position with no one to cover for them.
"Everybody can skate and handle nowadays," said hockey executive Jim Nill in a Wall Street Journal article in 2011. "It's the ability to contain guys. If everybody's pretty good, there's less separation of the star from the average player."
Leetch added that things were even changing while he was playing. "If you were on your own and made a mistake, it was, 'You can't do that. You've got to get back.'"
Jordan Staal's Streak of 358 Consecutive Games Played
From his rookie year in 2006-07 to the second round of the 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals, Jordan Staal suited up for 358 straight games.
He missed one game in his rookie year, then played three full regular seasons and almost all of the first two rounds of playoffs before getting cut by P.K. Subban's skate against the Montreal Canadiens.
Currently, there are two other active games-played streaks in the NHL. Henrik Sedin has played in 629 straight regular-season games with the Vancouver Canucks, while Jay Bouwmeester has started in 635 consecutive contests.
With injuries in the NHL becoming a more publicized problem—especially with the concussion epidemic and freak accidents from skates—it could be harder for players to stay out of harm's way in a sport that has a high risk of serious injury.
Furthermore, teams are more likely to be cautious as these injuries pile up, holding players out until they are absolutely 100 percent—especially if they are superstars.
In addition, NHL rules are cracking down more on big hits and planned fighting, with players feeling the consequences via suspensions.
Staal's record requires the least effort to break, but in a way, it also takes a lot of careful planning on a player's part.