The Pittsburgh Penguins will be getting their playoffs a bit early this year. By going 3-6-1 in their last ten games they have opened the door to missing the playoffs. At this point in time that is not the likely scenario, but it is a possible one.
The Ottawa Senators have taken full advantage of the situation and have closed the gap on the Penguins, Red Wings, and Bruins who are all at 95 points. The bad news for Ottawa is that they do not hold the tiebreaker (regulation wins) over any of the three teams they are chasing. Five of Ottawa’s past six games have gone to extra time. A very good way to accumulate points, but not so great at gaining regulation wins.
Ottawa lost in the shootout to the Maple Leafs last night which was a big deal. By not gaining the extra point the Senators are not in control of their destiny like they could have been.
A Pittsburgh Penguins regulation win against Ottawa on Tuesday night will clinch the playoffs. A regulation loss against Ottawa will put the Penguins in a situation where they will have to at least equal Ottawa’s point total for the remaining games.
Here are the current odds for the playoff picture in the East
Here are how the teams have been playing in the last 10 games using Score-Adjusted Fenwick and even-strength save percentage:
Pittsburgh is playing decent and has the best possession metrics but that has been nullified by below average goaltending and a putrid shooting percentage during this stretch (otherwise known as PDO). This is an issue that can be solved over time, but the problem is that there is no time. Playing well and not getting results is a problem this time of year.
You can add David Perron to that list as he only has three goals in his last 24 games playing alongside Sidney Crosby.
Fans are getting emotional as of late because the stakes are starting to get higher but none of this should come as a huge surprise. The Penguins are a team that needs to be fully healthy to make a legitimate push at the end of the year. When they aren’t healthy they are capable of playing well to mixed results.
Pittsburgh’s player depth is improved, but still not good. They are a playoff caliber team but not a Cup favorite.
The biggest thing to remember are that Pittsburgh’s issues moving forward are still the same ones whether they make the playoffs and have success, make the playoffs and flame out, or miss the playoffs. They need better depth. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang are not the problem. They need more help. How to get them that help will be discussed in the weeks and months to come.
I can’t stress enough that they don’t need to take a nuclear bomb to the franchise. Get better depth. Get better value on that depth.
Pittsburgh is more than capable of ending this on Tuesday night with a win, but in the case of an Ottawa win here are the remaining schedules for each of the four teams who can potentially miss the playoffs:
Boston: At Washinton, at Florida, at Tampa Bay
Detroit: Carolina, at Montreal, at Carolina
Ottawa: Pittsburgh, at New York Rangers, at Philadelphia
Pittsburgh: At Ottawa, New York Islanders, at Buffalo
People don’t want to hear it but you won’t lose too many games 4-1 playing like this. It happened, time to move on.
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