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Insider Only Pens-Isles Fallout: Home ice in 1st round; Rupp a force in victory; Inopportune penalties a concern

Post Penguins – Islanders Wrapup

The Philadelphia Flyers late season collapse is very similar to their struggles down the stretch in 2009, where Pittsburgh on the last day of the regular season leaped the Flyers for the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference.
This season it’s the division title that the Flyers could be handing to Pittsburgh.
However, the Flyers losers of 5 straight and 14 of 20 games, still control their fate for the No. 2 seed…

With a win Saturday night against the New York Islanders on home ice, Philadelphia will clinch the division and the No. 2 seed. Philadelphia is 5-0 against the Islanders who

Pittsburgh may have 48 wins to Philadelphia’s 47 wins but the new tiebreaker is which team has the most wins in regulation in overtime.
Philadelphia trumps Pittsburgh 43 to 38 in that No. 1 tiebreaker area. The Penguins Eastern Conference leading 10 shootout wins have helped them clinch home ice but hurts them in tiebreaker situations.
By Sunday when the Penguins finish the season against the Atlanta Thrashers, Pittsburgh will know whether the division is still a possibility. Pittsburgh is 3-0 against the Thrashers this season.
— The importance of the Penguins 4-3 shootout win against the New York Islanders was obviously clinching home-ice for the first round of the playoffs. The Penguins can place anywhere from seeds 2-through-4 in the Eastern Conference.
What they do know is that if they finish with the No. 4 seed, they will open the playoffs against the No. 5 Tampa Bay Lightning (45-25-11, 101 pts).
Winning the division would mean a first round series against the No. 7 Buffalo Sabres (42-29-10, 94 pts) or No. 6 Montreal Canadiens (43-30-8, 94 pts).
What a performance the Penguins got from Mike Rupp against the Islanders. Scores the first goal of the game……creates the Penguins only power play goal by winning a battle in the corner, than creating a screen on Al Montoya as Zbynek Michalek blasts a point shot past Montoya…… gets the primary assist with a great individual play on Mark Letestu’s (at the time) go ahead third period goal…..
— The Penguins have scored power play goals in back-to-back games….It’s baby steps…
What they finally might have in Zbynek Michalek is a pointmen who can get a puck hard on the net and most importantly “low” enough for an opportunity to be tipped or screened.
Michalek has 5 goals in his last 14 games.
— The Penguins taking inopportune penalties have been a problem for much of the season and is something of a concern going into the playoffs. Overall, you can even make a strong case that this team takes too many penalties
For much of the season, their No. 1 penalty kill unit has been able to bail them out but they have to get much more discipline in the playoffs.
James Neal left the game with what is believed to be a left wrist injury. Bylsma said he is day-to-day for now but the extent is not yet known.
It was one of those plays that looks harmless but the way Neal immediately knew there was an issue, has some fearing it could be a significant injury.
Although Neal couldn’t bury a puck if he was shooting into a soccer net, missing anytime in the playoffs would be a big blow to the Penguins in the first round.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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