Penguins’ focus should be on clinching, not seeding, coach Mike Sullivan says |

Penguins’ focus should be on clinching, not seeding, coach Mike Sullivan says

Jonathan Bombulie
Carolina Hurricanes’ Micheal Ferland (79) avoids Pittsburgh Penguins’ Phil Kessel (81) to fire the puck on goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, March 19, 2019, in Raleigh, N.C.

On the surface, Sunday’s matchup between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Carolina Hurricanes looks like a battle for third place in the Metropolitan Division.

With four games left in the regular season, the Penguins are holding down the spot and the Hurricanes are only two points behind.

The winner will have a good shot at staying in the Metropolitan Division bracket in the playoffs while the loser will likely have to navigate the Eastern Conference as a wild-card entry.

Coach Mike Sullivan, however, doesn’t look at it that way. His focus is even more short-sighted than that.

The Penguins’ magic number for clinching a playoff spot is three. Any combination of three points they earn or the Montreal Canadiens fail to earn will clinch a playoff berth for the 12th straight season.

Until that happens, Sullivan is interested in little else. He believes his players are approaching it the same way.

“They’re on the same page,” Sullivan said. “They’re well aware of where we’re at. We haven’t earned a spot in the playoffs yet and that’s our No. 1 priority. The way to do it is to make sure we stay focused on that one game in front of us, and that’s where our mindset is.”

Matt Murray will make his eighth straight start in net for the Penguins.

Evgeni Malkin (upper body), Kris Letang (upper body), Chad Ruhwedel (upper body) and Zach Aston-Reese (lower body) remain out with injuries, but all skated Sunday morning, Sullivan said.

Follow the Pittsburgh Penguins all season long.

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review assistant sports editor. You can contact Jonathan by email at [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Sports | Penguins
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using 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.