Saturday, March 22, 2008

Game #75 - vs New Jersey Devils

New Jersey Devils (42-25-7, 91 pts) at Pittsburgh Penguins (42-25-7, 91 pts)

The Pens and Devils are tied in the standings, with identical records. They're also both under .500 in the division, strangely enough.

The two games against the Devils, today and Tuesday, are critical for the Pens if they hope to win the division. Of the six games so far, the Devils have earned 8 points, while the Pens have earned 5.

If the Pens finish tied with the Devils in points, the first tiebreaker is wins. Right now both teams are tied in wins. The second tiebreaker is points earned head to head. If the Pens win today and Tuesday in regulation, denying the Devils any points, they'll win that tiebreaker 9-8, and will have gone a long way toward assuring themselves of a seeding no worse than second. Home ice advantage is critical for the Pens.

The Devils have lost two in a row, both at home, scoring only one goal each game. Their offense is not the strength of the team. It's still the defense and Brodeur that makes the Devils go.

The Pens need to play a tight game. They need to move the puck quickly out of their own end to keep the Devils from setting up their aggressive forecheck. I don't know who is starting, but I'd be tempted to go with Conklin given the way he can move the puck (and negate the forecheck to some extent).

Game time is 7:30 at the Igloo.

Let's Go Pens!

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