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Insider Only Rangers gain ground, Penguins drop to 7th

If the playoffs started today the Penguins would be the #7 seed in the Eastern Conference, giving them the worst possible matchup against the #2 New Jersey Devils who I regard as the top team in the East.
The Rangers gained ground tonight as Nikolai Zherdev had a goal and an assist to lift the New York Rangers (39-27-8) to a 2-1 win over the Minnesota Wild. The win moved the Rangers up to the #6 spot in the Eastern Conference, dropping the Penguins to the #7 spot due to the Rangers have an advantage in the season series between the division rivals.
Playoff Races
4. Philadelphia Flyers (40-22-10, 90 pts)
Games Remaining: 10
5. Carolina Hurricanes (40-28-7, 87 pts)
Games Remaining: 7
6. New York Rangers (39-27-8, 86 pts)
Games Remaining: 8
7. Pittsburgh Penguins (39-27-8, 86 pts)
Games Remaining: 8
8. Montreal Canadiens (37-27-9, 83 pts)
Games Remaining: 9
On the Outside
9. Florida Panthers (35-27-11, 81 pts)
Games Remaining: 9
Analysis: Penguins fans seem to be getting a bit too comfortable these days. If I had to make a prediction rigth now, I would say the Penguins will make the playoffs but they are only five points ahead of the #9 seed and the Penguins have a tough schedule ahead of them. There is no guarantee just yet that the Penguins will make the playoffs. Of all the potential teams the Penguins could face,

the New Jersey Devils are the worst possible matchup. The Devils are four lines deep and they’re a team that matches up very well against the Penguins.
The Bruins, Capitals don’t scare the Penguins one bit. If I was Pittsburgh, I would actually want to face Washington in the first round, despite the Capitals being 3-1 against Pittsburgh this season.
The only other team that I see causing the Penguins problems in a potential first round matchup are the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers are the deepest team upfront in the National Hockey League. They have 5 players with 25 goals or more and Joffrey Lupul (21 goals) gives them 6 players with 20 goals or more.
Oft injured Daniel Briere is begining to find his game at the right time and young forward Claude Girox gives the Flyers another potential top 6 forward that head coach John Stevens has to find ice time for. It’s a good problem to have.
On the blueline the Flyers are a much different team than last year. They are much more mobile with the additions of Ryan Parent and Matt Carle.
The wildcard is Marty Biron. Does he have the ability to beat the Penguins in a 7 game series?

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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