After an off-day on Sunday, the Penguins head into the final week of the season with some uncertainty but one thing the team knows is that they control their destiny for home-ice in the first round.
The Penguins (46-25-8, 100pts) and Tampa Bay Lightning (44-24-11, 99pts) are neck and neck for the No. 4 seed as Pittsburgh holds just a 1 point lead over Tampa Bay in the standings, going into the final week of action.
The streaking Lightning collected their fifth straight win on Sunday to pull within one point.
Both teams have three games remaining.
The Penguins finish the season against New Jersey (36-37-5, 77pts), New York Islanders (30-37-12, 72pts) and the Atlanta Thrashers (33-33-12, 78pts).
Pittsburgh figures to have tough games against the Devils and the New York Islanders.
The Lightning finish up against Buffalo (40-29-10, 90pts), Florida (29-38-12, 70pts) and Carolina (38-30-11, 87pts). Not a particular easy finish for Tampa but from the Penguins standpoint, it’s never easy to predict how games are going to go against teams with nothing to play for.
What we do know is that the most realistic situation is still a 4 or 5 seed. Winning the division remains a longshot as Pittsburgh trails Philadelphia (46-22-11, 103 pts) by three points and the Flyers own the tiebreakers.
However, anything can happen and there’s a lot to play for. The Penguins can still finish anywhere from 1-5.
Philadelphia also has three games remaining and finishes up against Ottawa (30-29-10, 70pts), Buffalo (40-29-10, 90pts) and New York Islanders (30-27-12, 72pts).
Eastern Conference Standings
1. Philadelphia (79GP: 46-22-11, 103 pts)
2. Washington (79GP: 46-22-11, 103 pts)
3. Boston (78GP: 44-23-11, 99 pts)
4. Pittsburgh (79GP: 46-25-8, 100 pts)
5. Tampa Bay (79GP: 44-24-11, 99 pts)
6. Montreal (79GP: 42-30-7, 91 pts)
7. Buffalo (79GP: 40-29-10, 90 pts)
8. New York Rangers (42-32-5,> 9 pts)