By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)
The impetus for this is nothing other than curiosity.
In 2008-09, Dan Bylsma took over for Michel Therrien for the final 25 games of the season. He lost his first game 3-2 in a shootout to the Islanders (first game Finesse and Artistry watched together -- birth of GTOG) but over the course of those 25 games he went 18-3-4, collecting 40 out of a possible 50 points.
The Pens have 5 games remaining. In their previous 20, they are 15-4-1, for 31 out of a possible 40 points. The Pens can match the '08-09 pace if they get 9 of 10 points over the final 5 games (4-0-1).
What does this mean? Probably nothing, but it helps put in context the last two games against the Islanders. The Pens looked really bad and clearly have some lingering issues that need to be addressed before the playoffs. But even if the Pens just get 6 of the remaining 10 points, they'll enter the playoffs just shy of their scorching 2009 pace.
Good teams have bad games, and the Pens have had three stinkers recently. But it's hardly a sinking ship. The Islanders are a pesky team that when they try hard, get a few bounces, and Al Montaya doesn't melt down, can win a few games. It's arguable that they'd win the Southeast division. We can forgive the Pens for overlooking them (twice).
Tonight is a different story. Pens are going into a hostile road environment against the hottest team in the league. If the Pens win in regulation, it increases the Caps chances of making the playoffs by 12.3% to something close to 67%. So we're thinking maybe Sid goes 5-hole for the win in a shootout.