Morning Skate: Where will a Pittsburgh Penguins finish in a East?
Greg Wyshynski: The Penguins are resounding toward a tip symbol in a Metropolitan Division, now assigned by their punching bag … er, aged friends, a Washington Capitals, who possess a 32-17-6 record (70 points). The Penguins are 31-22-4 (66 points) after going on a 7-2-1 tear.
So how high can they climb? Well, if coffee is for closers, flow a Penguins a venti double. They are a total 36-15-5 over a past dual seasons from Feb. 14 by a finish of a season. For his career, Sidney Crosby has a points-per-game normal of 1.36 in Mar and April, that is aloft than his career normal (1.30).
Yet notwithstanding their stellar play late in a season, a Penguins have finished second in a Metro in uninterrupted years. Finishing first? The Capitals, who have honestly polished a art of a multiplication championship during a Ovechkin Era with 7 first-place finishes in 12 seasons.
Metro Division during a trade deadline: A multiplication of shoppers
The Metro Division has a handful of teams in a marketplace for upgrades as a trade deadline lingers in a not-too-distant future. The Rangers? Well, a Rangers are selling. Just ask them.
NHL playoff chances report: Who’s alive, who’s desperate?
At this point, a aim points for a playoff symbol in a Eastern Conference is around 90. In a West, it’s higher, around 98 points. Here’s a demeanour during a teams now fighting for those spots, and their chances of creation it.
Which NHL contenders should go all-in during a trade deadline?
For teams in playoff spots or on a bubble, one of a large factors in determining either to mount pat or acquire assistance is a team’s makeup, in terms of altogether girl and agreement timing. We separate a contenders into win-now and bright-future categories.
So we’ll go brazen and contend it happens again: The Capitals take a multiplication with around 105 points, with a Penguins finishing a tighten second. They both dispatch their first-round opponents, and we get Washington vs. Pittsburgh for a third uninterrupted deteriorate in a second turn — and if a Capitals remove again, we entirely design Barry Trotz to squeeze a flame and charge a gates of NHL domicile as a one-man army, perfectionist a playoff format change.
Emily Kaplan: Right around Thanksgiving, we were seeking ourselves what was wrong with a Penguins, and what was a subsequent pierce they indispensable to make to pull themselves behind to respectability. Things have positively altered in dual and a half months. we feel a bit stupid for jealous a Penguins — who, we should note, we picked as my early Stanley Cup favorite. A severe start competence have been a phenomenon of back-to-back exhausting seasons and poignant crew losses, yet a Penguins have refound their balance in a large way.
One of a biggest issues with Pittsburgh to start a deteriorate was a bad starts. As we wrote on Nov. 29, a Penguins had “allowed 30 first-period goals, that is a misfortune symbol in a league. They’ve scored usually 20 goals in a initial duration themselves (which is 20th in a league), and that minus-10 differential is an nauseous indicator of given they’re 13-10-3 and in fifth place in a Metropolitan Division.”
Well that was usually a representation distance of 26 games. In a 31 games given then, Pittsburgh has been off to a many softened start, outscoring opponents 25-19 in a opening frame. One thing a Penguins haven’t solved is their season-long hunt for abyss during center. we consider that’s something GM Jim Rutherford will residence during a trade deadline. It competence not be with a big, splashy name — given really, there aren’t many top-end centers accessible — yet a Penguins should find someone to block in on a bottom dual lines. Of course, Pittsburgh is also in on a let winger — as prolonged as he comes in during a right price.
All of this is to say, a Penguins are in many softened figure than they were to start a season. Their energy play is officious frightful (currently initial in a league, during 26.3 percent), both Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel are Art Ross Trophy possibilities — and as Greg notes, Crosby tends to play his best hockey late in a season. The Penguins are trending up. They’re in second place in a Metropolitan now, and notwithstanding a pile of teams still competing for a playoff symbol behind them, we don’t see them finishing any reduce than that.
Chris Peters: What a furious year, yet we had to figure a Penguins weren’t going to be shifting all a proceed out of a playoffs. There’s usually too many talent during a tip of their lineup, and it’s been a tip guys removing a pursuit finished as common as a Penguins swell into playoff position.
Since a calendar incited to 2018, Pittsburgh’s primary stars have been unstoppable. Malkin has 16 goals and 27 points in his past 17 games. Crosby has 22 assists and 27 points in a same span. Kessel, who arguably has been a Pens’ many unchanging brazen via a season, has 23 points in that span. Meanwhile, a goaltending has improved, even yet it has been a by-committee approach. Matt Murray, who has dealt with injuries and a new genocide of his father, has seen an uptick in opening when he has been available, with a .918 save commission given Jan. 1. Meanwhile, Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith have also any done starts in new weeks. The goaltending partial is pivotal given we’ve seen how this group looks when Murray struggles — and it isn’t good. Keeping him healthy and in a right mindset is pivotal to this team’s hopes.
Looking during Pittsburgh’s report a rest of a way, there are utterly a few games opposite teams that are still in a playoff hunt and fighting for spots — and usually a handful or so opposite teams usually personification out a string. With a Philadelphia Flyers gaining on them, we consider a misfortune a Pens will do is a third symbol in a Metro. The many expected position, however is that second symbol and home-ice advantage in a first-round matchup.