Thursday, March 10, 2011

Don't Sell the Penguins Short: the #1 Seed is There For the Taking

By Artistry

Take a look at the NHL Eastern Conference standings today.

A couple of things come immediately to mind:

1) The Penguins are 2 points out of first place. What???  They lost Evgeni Malkin for the season, Sidney Crosby for two months and probably the season, Chris Kunitz for 13 games, Mark Letestu for six weeks, Brooks Orpik for six weeks, and Dustin Jeffrey, Paul Martin and Matt Cooke for extended stretches as well.  How is this even possible?  Don't think about it too much; it may blow your mind.

2) The Penguins would do well to hang on to the #4 seed in the East.  Come on, they're doing it with smoke and mirrors, right?  Even with the additions of James Neal and Alexei Kovalev and a roster that's as close to healthy as it's been in months, Pittsburgh can't hang with the top 3 teams down the stretch.  The Flyers have two games in hand.  As we discussed in our podcast, the Capitals are heating up.  Just play good hockey down the stretch, stave off Tampa, and try to win a playoff series. 

Now hang on. Check yourself with respect to that second point. Look at the Pens' remaining schedule:

Mar 12 Montreal
Mar 13 Edmonton
Mar 15 @ Ottawa
Mar 20 NY Rangers
Mar 21 @ Detroit
Mar 24 @ Philadelphia
Mar 25 New Jersey
Mar 27 Florida
Mar 29 Philadelphia
Mar 31 @ Tampa Bay
Apr 2    @ Florida
Apr 5    New Jersey
Apr 8    @ NY Islanders
Apr 10  @ Atlanta

See those two games against Philly? If the Penguins manage to take three out of four points from the Flyers, and that's a very big but attainable if, there goes Philadelphia's advantage.  That leaves 12 games, six against non-playoff teams (Thrashers, Panthers twice, Islanders, Oilers, Senators).  Of the other six games, four are at home (Habs, Rangers, Devils, Devils again).  It says here that if the Penguins take 20 out of the 28 points still on the table, they win the East.  That's a 10-4 record, give or take, and it's not unrealistic. 

You'll never hear us argue in this space that getting the top seed means much at the end of the day.  It's not what anybody plays for.  It's not what wins Cups.  But under the circumstances?  Can you imagine?


  1. Because "Anonymous" is slow on the draw today to correct our math, I feel compelled to point out one thing. If the Pens get 3 out of 4 from Philly, it means the Flyers get 2 out of 4 (those pesky 3 point games). So technically, that wouldn't erase their advantage.

    Having said that, the Pens could heat up and catch the Flyers, although I give that a 10% chance. Also, I'm not sure I'd want to get the #1 seed. The #1 seed could mean playing a hot #8 seed. Imagine if the Devils get in?

    On the other hand, a 4v5 matchup against a Tampa team that may have peaked a month ago? I like that better. We can't be greedy about wanting the #1 seed for later rounds of the playoffs. We just need to get in.

  2. Nobody's getting greedy, don't worry. It's a matter of acknowledging the Pens are in a position no one had any right to envision.

    If the Devils make the playoffs, I will reveal my true identity to GTOG Nation and post a picture of myself wearing only Devil horns - and nothing else - on our Facebook page. You do not want the Devils to make the playoffs.

  3. #1 seed = mind truly blown like that guy's head in scanners.

    Even though the Devils are on Conan the Barbarian status they still have 32 losses and most likely have win out. I can't see Carolina wimpering off into the sunset and acceding the 8th spot. I don't think Buffalo can hold on either.

  4. According to this site, they would only (ONLY ha) have to go 13-3 to realistically make the playoffs.
    Great site. I could lose myself for hours there.