With Tampa Bay winning Saturday afternoon to pull within a single point of the Penguins in the race for home ice in the first round of the playoffs, last night's game shaped up as one of the most significant of the season. Let's be candid. Sometimes "significant" doesn't necessarily mean "watchable." We took in Pens-Panthers on NHL Center Ice, and that meant getting stuck with FSN Florida's non-HD broadcast on Comcast. This led Finesse to note, "I'd rather Comcast be honest and just say, "We don't give a s--- about the NHL," as opposed to delivering what we saw last night. I thought I was watching the Miracle on Ice." And not in a "sporting event of the century" kind of way. Even aside from the 1980-quality broadcast, the game took on a Twilight Zone feel. To wit:
1) The Panthers appeared to be wearing the Penguins' winter classic uniforms.
2) Florida leads the league in players we've never heard of despite the fact that we play them four times a year. Don't they have to spend something like $35mil this offseason just to get the the cap floor? Among the major professional sports leagues, it could be the least relevant franchise.
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- The Penguins magic number is 3. Over the past three months, the Penguins have only lost twice when they've managed to pot at least three goals. And if we couldn't get to that number against Florida when the Panthers were letting down their hair and exchanging chances, well, just be glad we got to that number. And try to forget that we should have been up 3-0 after 15 minutes.
- Tyler Kennedy still appears to be using the drug from "Limitless." He needs 13 goals in the final three regular season games to overtake Sidney Crosby for the team goal scoring lead. If he ups his dosage, this could actually happen.
- Can we send Matt Niskanen back to Dallas in exchange for James Neal's scoring touch?
- Zybnek Michalek has quite the canon shot. He blocks everything. He may be our best defenseman right now.
- Craig Adams is rounding into post-season form.
- The latest clip of Sid practicing showed someone touching him at practice. Nothing major, but at least borderline contact. That's a huge step. Biggest development of the night. Don't even get Ron Cook started.3) There is a reason why Steve Goldstein and Bill Lindsay are stuck doing Panther games. In the first period, Goldstein noted that "What made the last game [the Panthers played] in Pittsburgh so successful is they didn't trade chances with the Pens." I'm pretty sure they lost that game, too. Still, big success. Later, Lindsay insisted that impending unrestricted free agents Christian Erhoff and Dany Markov will receive "max contracts" this summer. This isn't the NBA, and honestly, no they won't.