Playoff scenarios and season milestones
The Penguins are in the playoffs. We still don’t know exactly where they will be, but we will by the end of the night. Pittsburgh still has a chance at second place in the division.
The Penguins will play the Rangers. They are not a great team. They can definitely take two points. The Islanders are playing the Capitals. The Capitals are a very good team. The Islanders could lose in regulation. One wrinkle, this is the Capitals lineup
Missing are Nick Backstrom, TJ Oshie, and John Carlson.
If the Penguins lose in regulation it opens the least desirable door of dropping down to fourth place with the Hurricanes jumping over them if they defeat the Philadelphia Flyers.
The previous three games against the Rangers all went the way of the Penguins (7-2, 6-5, 5-2). Unlike the Capitals the Penguins will not be resting players. They don’t want the Capitals in round one. Why would they?
A player definitely not getting rest will be Matt Murray
Pittsburgh has a history of working their starting goalie pretty hard. Marc-Andre Fleury was known for his durability. You can’t fault the player for playing when the coach starts you, but the players can get worn down. Fleury’s best two seasons were the 2007-08 year in Pittsburgh and last year’s run with the Vegas Golden Knights when he wasn’t even close to reaching 60 games played. In 2016-17 Fleury was a huge reason the penguins made the Eastern Conference Finals, another year he wasn’t near the 60 mark. Matt Murray won’t hit the 60 game mark because of the month he missed. Since returning December 15th Murray has played in 38 out of the Penguins 50 games. You can see in the tweet above those games are incredibly back loaded. Playing 38 out of 50 is a pace which would see a goaltender play 62 games.
Casey DeSmith was a capable .916 this year. Matt Murray has been spectacular. Hopefully he has enough in the tank for the stretch run.
The Sabres epic collapse did the Penguins no favors
At least the Penguins had that cap space for four days.
Sidney Crosby will need two points to get to 100 points. He was robbed of this achievement three times in my estimation from 2010-13. Two years ruined by David Steckel’s definitely on purpose blind side hit and the NHL’s 2012-13 lockout year. It could have been a run of six consecutive 100 point seasons. I don’t think it is an exaggeration. It was his 23-25 age seasons. He was at the height of his excellence.
Crosby registered three points and two points in the first two meetings against the Rangers this year. The most recent contest he had one. Kris Letang was not in the lineup that game. I like Crosby’s chances and I hope he gets triple digits. Maybe he can provide an assist on a Jake Guentzel’s 40th goal on the year.
Assuming Brian Dumoulin is good to go for Game 1 of the playoffs I can’t imagine the other players who played in 84 games were at risk of being scratched in the playoff opener. Jack Johnson is going to play. It means the Penguins are going to scratch either Olli Maatta or Marcus Pettersson. They are not huge fans of using seven defenseman. They’ve been likelier to use five in recent memory.
Phil Kessel will play in his 82nd game of the season. It will be his 774th consecutive game. He has 190 to go to hit the record. It is his 328th consecutive game with the Penguins. He has 303 points.
Thanks for reading!