Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Game #77 - at New Jersey Devils

Pittsburgh Penguins (43-26-7, 93 pts) at New Jersey Devils (42-26-7, 91 pts)

"Excuses are for losers." (kudos to the Trib - they printed that quote - the Post-Gazette didn't)

Coach Therrien broke out the big stick after the poor performance last night on Long Island. That adds to the already voluminous list of factors in this game. Consider these:
  • With a win tonight in regulation, the Pens can go four points ahead of the Devils AND they'll be two wins in front of them for the first tiebreaker. They would also hold the second tiebreaker - points earned head to head - by a 9-8 margin.
  • With a win in overtime, they'll be three points ahead of the Devils, two wins ahead and would be tied with them for the second tiebreaker, 9-9. That would kick things to the third tiebreaker, which is goal differential for the season. The Pens have this one in the bag - they're +26 while the Devils are just +11.
  • The Devils will be coming out with a vengeance to erase the memory of the Saturday beatdown. Look for the hitting to be ferocious and the forecheck to be aggressive.
  • The Devils have lost three of the previous four games at home, along with three straight overall.

So what can we draw from this? The Pens need a win. If the Devils win the game, that puts the Pens a long way towards the #4 seed and a matchup with Ottawa or the Rangers in the first round. If the Pens win, that puts them in the driver's seat for the #2 seed and a matchup with Philly, Boston or (please!) Washington.

No Crosby or Dupuis. Connor James was called up "just in case". I think that means someone figured out that Chris Minard played over seven minutes last night. I like Chris, but it seems Therrien likes him too... sitting on the bench.

Let's Go Pens!

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