Penguins' recent hot streak yields little gain
In hockey, a lot can happen in 17 days.
That hasn't been the case for the Penguins, though.
When the Penguins opened their eight-game homestand March 14, they were in sixth place in the Eastern Conference standings.
A little more than two weeks and seven games later — despite going 5-1-1 and claiming 11 of a possible 14 points — the Penguins are still in sixth place.
The Penguins are playing well, but so is their competition.
"We're winning and we're still sitting in the same spot," defenseman Sergei Gonchar said. "It says how tough this league is and how desperate everybody is."
The Penguins' desperation has shown since they embarked upon a five-game road trip in late February. They left Pittsburgh in 10th place and fighting for their playoff lives and returned in seventh, thanks to winning all five games on the trip. Since then, the competition has stiffened and the playoff race has
"Everyone else seems to be winning also, so we can't really take the foot off the gas," defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "It's going to have to come down to the last day, most likely, so we're gonna have to follow suit with the other teams trying to get in."
The Penguins haven't risen in the standings since opening the homestand, and they haven't created more separation between themselves and the seventh-place Rangers; the Penguins continue to hold a one-point edge.
Things in the Eastern Conference are extremely tight:
n Fourth-place Philadelphia and eighth-place Montreal are separated by just six points.
n The Flyers, fifth-place Carolina and the Penguins are separated by one point apiece.
n Ninth-place Florida is a point behind Montreal, which is three points behind the Rangers.
n Of the fourth-through-eighth-place teams in the East, the Rangers are the only team that has more than a one-point cushion over the team right below them.
Boston, Washington and New Jersey — who will visit Mellon Arena on Wednesday night to close out the Penguins' homestand — have already clinched playoff spots.
Of the Penguins' six remaining games, four are against playoff contenders. The Penguins will face the Devils, Hurricanes and Canadiens — who currently occupy a playoff spot — and the ninth-place Panthers.
"I was looking at teams we're in contention with, looking at their schedules and our schedule," defenseman Brooks Orpik said, "It kind of seems like you don't even have an easy game.
"I guess I'm a little surprised we haven't gained a little bit more ground with how well we've played, but I guess that's just how desperate other teams are playing."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins hire Agnew as assistant
- Penguins are saying captain Crosby’s right wrist may need surgery
- New general manager Rutherford, Penguins in favor of short-term deals
- Former Predators winger Hornqvist embraces recent trade to Penguins
- New Penguins winger Spaling files for arbitration
- Pens hope to reach long-term deal with Brandon Sutter
- Penguins sign controversial Downie to bring an edge to squad
- Downie: Joining Penguins ‘made sense’
- Pens’ Rutherford expects to lose Niskanen, Jokinen; could trade first-round draft pick
- Kulemin, Pouliot among top targets for Penguins in NHL free agency
- Familiar Penguins faces say goodbye via free agency