--A week ago, the Pens were atop the Metro and things were looking prettay, prettttttayyyyyyy, prettttaaaaaaay, pretty good.
Now? Not so much.
The Flyers added bottom-six depth at the deadline. The Canes added two defenseman and Vincent Trochek. The Isles added J.G. Pageau. This thing’s going to be a mother flipping dog fight.
The Penguins could win the division. I don’t think they’ll miss the playoffs. BUT, right now, you have to beat teams like the Ducks and Sharks. They're 0/1 now on the trip after Wednesday's performance.
I don’t know how important it is for the Penguins to win the division. If I had to guess, I bet Washington wins it, because they always do.
I really don't know how important home ice is, despite how good the Pens have been at PPG Paints this year.
Here’s what I would be concerned about: falling into a Wild Card spot. Say the Pens fall into the first Wild Card, they’d play Washington in the first round.
Can they beat the Caps? Sure. But do you REALLY want to play the best team in the division in round one and have to take that physical pounding? No.
Worse yet, what if they fell to the second Wild Card? This four game losing streak makes it seem like that COULD be a possibility. Then they would play Boston in round one. They’d be stuck on that side of the bracket and likely play Tampa in round two. Then they could play the Caps in round three.
As good as the Penguins can be, and I think they’re a true contender, I just don’t see how you can run that gauntlet. Boston, Tampa, then Washington? No thanks.
The Pens need to, at a minimum, hang in the 2/3 matchup in the Metro. To do that, they’ve got to beat teams like the Anaheim Ducks starting tonight.