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The Pittsburgh Penguins enter Game #82 and the final day of the regular season in a situation where they can still finish 2nd/3rd or the top wildcard spot.
The Islanders go into the night controlling their destiny where they need to earn just one point to clinch home-ice in Round 1.
1. New York Islanders clinch 2nd place in Metro If they earn at least one point or Pittsburgh loses
2. Pittsburgh Penguins will clinch 2nd place in Metro if they win and Islanders lose in regulation
Worst Case Scenario for the Penguins tonight:
The Penguins would finish in the top wild card spot and be awarded with a round 1 matchup vs the Capitals if the Carolina Hurricanes defeat the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh loses in regulation.
Penguins in position for a favorable Round 1 matchup
Far from a shock, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan is all-in with his lineup tonight vs the New York Rangers. The hockey mentality is always play your best lineup games 1-82 and despite clinching a playoff spot Thursday night, Sullivan will dress a full lineup tonight, including goaltender Matt Murray whose heavy workload continues.
There won’t be a let’s rest the likes of Sidney Crosby, Matt Murray, ect, mentality and let the chips fall.
Murray would have been an ideal candidate to get a night off but there is believed to have been little thought to going to Casey DeSmith tonight in goal.
Murray’s heavy workload will be something to watch as the playoffs progress. Murray’s played in 77% of the Penguins games since the middle of December and If his play starts to tail off a bit that plays a factor in Pittsburgh having a quick exit, the narrative that Pittsburgh overworked him when Casey DeSmith has provided .915%+ level goaltending, will certainly become a narrative that emerges.
For Pittsburgh tonight, it’s all about getting the matchup with the Islanders. Whether Pittsburgh starts on the road or at home in a 2/3 scenario, the Center and Goaltending edge is so large in Pittsburgh’s favor, there would just be no excuse not to get out of a Round 1 matchup with the Isles.
— Kris Letang returned to the lineup Thursday night vs the Red Wings but his situation was a bit murky 48-72 hours before the Pittsburgh – Detroit contest on Thursday. Letang’s latest short absence from the lineup was not a situation with the Penguins medical staff being ones Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"