Suddenly, quietly, the ‘Guins are 11-0-2 in their last 13 and sit in fourth place in the Eastern Conference seven points behind the Devils with a game in hand. I cannot say that I have kept track of the Penguins. I no longer have the time or schedule to watch anyhing but Devils games. Seven of their wins were against mediocre squads (TOR 2, PHO, FLA, WAS, PHI 2), but they also beat good Nashville and Dallas squads. With all of those years of high draft picks one suspects that they have long had the talent to be a top 6 playoff team and they are finally living up to it. Their next opponent is lowly Chicago so Friday’s show down with the Devils could loom large.
It might actually be better for the Pens to be a higher seed. The National league’s infaturation with Crosby would make the Pens an overly sympathetic first round opponent. Ditto for Conference finals. The Semi-finals are the place to knock these challengers out.
Speaking of the Devils…. They’ve done what every good team has to do at some point in the season: go on a 10+ game more-or-less unbeaten streak including the besting of several quality opponents. This proves that you have the stuff to make a run when you are at your best and helps to separate you from the pack (the Pens are the only remote contender for the Atlantic Divison crown now). I’d like to see them go 10-5-2 over the next 17 before finishing out the season strong.
Other than a possible depth player a la Bob Corkum the only move I see them making down the stretch is some Lou alchemy that will somehow get Richard Matvichuk on the roster. He is better than any available defensemen right now anyway.
* Either the Wings or Predators wil lose in the first round. Neither of these teams quite has Championship personnel (the Wings do on D, but Datsyuk and Zetterberg are playoff no shows) and their records are hugely inflated by playing CHI, STL and CLB 24 times a year.
* Scott Gomez does not play at a $5 million per year level. He did for the last half of ’06, but not this year. $3.5-$4 million is fair for Gomez. There. I said it.