Pens Pointers #16

Anthony DeSimone

It is soul-searching time for the Pittsburgh Penguins as they cling to a wildcard spot in the playoffs with only one week left in the regular season.

The Penguins were unable to pick up any points this past weekend to solidify their playoff spot. They lost to the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-3 on Saturday and were decimated by the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1 on Sunday. They have now fallen to 7th place in the Eastern Conference with three games to go in the regular season.  The standings are as follows (as of Monday at 12 p.m.):

1st New York Rangers 107 Points
2nd Montreal Canadiens 106 Points
3rd Tampa Bay Lightning 104 Points
4th Washington Capitals 99 Points
5th New York Islanders 98 Points
6th Boston Bruins 95 Points
7th Pittsburgh Penguins 95 Points
8th Detroit Red Wings 95 Points
9th Ottawa Senators 93 Points


With Ottawa right on the fringe of making the playoffs, the stage is set for Tuesday night’s match up between the Senators and the Penguins. If the Penguins win, the Senators will be unable to knock the Penguins out of the playoffs because the Pens will have 97 points. Additionally, if the Penguins lose their final two games and end up tying the Senators in points, the Pens will hold the tie-breaker because they have won more games in regulation or overtime than the Senators have (Penguins have 38 non-shootout victories, the Senators have 34).

On the other hand, if the Senators defeat the Penguins Tuesday night, they would tie the Penguins in the standings and things become more interesting. After Tuesday’s game, both teams will have two games left to play. This means that whoever gets the most points out of those two games will be the team who makes the playoffs.

However, the Detroit Red Wings are also caught up in this race for the wildcard spots as well. They can either help or hurt the Penguins. If they lose their last two games of the season this week, the Penguins will make the playoff regardless because they hold the tie breaker between the Red Wings as well. On the other hand, if the Red Wings win, the Penguins will have get at least three points to stay in the playoff picture.

There are so many ways that the standings can change between these three teams that it can cause a headache for any hockey fan. The bottom line is this though, if the Penguins are able to win their last three games of the regular season, they will solidify their playoff spot and avoid busting out the golf clubs for at least another two weeks.

With all that said, the Penguins are going to need to dig down deep this week if they want to win their final three games. After Tuesday in Ottawa, the Penguins will come home to square-off against the New York Islanders and then travel overnight to Buffalo to play the Sabres to finish out the regular season.

Winning all three games will not be an easy task, especially with the Penguins still down two defensemen and their goaltending not being as stellar as it was a few weeks ago. This means that the offense is going to need to step up their game and go back to simply outscoring their opponents instead of trying to play a defensive battle. At the end of the day, it is not who has the best defense; it is who has the most points on the scoreboard after 60 minutes of hockey.

Additionally, if the Penguins want some motivation and drive to make the playoffs and have a chance at winning the Stanley Cup, they need to look at the man who is the heart and soul of the Penguins organization; Pascal Dupuis.

This is the man who played five hockey games earlier in the season while a blood clot was preventing him from using a third of one of his lungs. Although this serious medical condition has kept him off the ice for most of this season, he is still a part of the team and watches his line-mates play each night. He has expressed his devotion and love toward the Penguins organization numerous times over his eight year career as a Penguin.

If nothing else, the Penguins should be motivated to make the playoffs and even win the Stanley Cup this year for the man who has given everything and the kitchen to the team he loves.