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Chaos: More Possible Penguins Playoff Scenarios Unfold

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Pittsburgh Penguins playoff scenarios

The Pittsburgh Penguins’ inability to hold a third-period lead is surpassed only by the New York Islanders’ disdain for winning in regulation. The Penguins have 10 overtime and shootout losses, but the Islanders have 15.

Monday night, the Penguins got a little help from the Islanders, but not before the Islanders squandered another third-period lead, yielding an overtime point to the third-place Philadelphia Flyers.

Through the failures of the teams higher in the standings, the Penguins are still alive. They have eight games remaining, including games against their primary competition: the Washington Capitals, Detroit Red Wings, and New York Islanders.

By beating the New York Rangers on Monday night, the Penguin playoff odds quadrupled but remain in single digits at 8.9%, according to MoneyPuck.com.

Despite the low odds, the Penguins’ win created an even more plausible playoff scenario than existed just a few days ago.

**They trail the third-place Philadelphia Flyers by six points with two games in hand. The best-case scenario is trailing Philadelphia by two points if the Penguins can win the two games in hand.

The Penguins will need at least three points in their two games in hand to make it plausible; otherwise, the math rewinds to making up at least four points over six games. Such a scenario likely involves the Penguins being forced to gain 10 points over their final six games. That’s possible but not likely.

As has been the case for a month, the scenarios are dependent on the Penguins winning, especially those games in hand on Philadelphia.

With no head-to-head games, the best-case scenario is trailing by one regulation victory over six games. Very doable.

**However, there are other teams involved, including the Penguins Tuesday night opponent, the New Jersey Devils. The Devils trail the Penguins by one point and very much need a win on Tuesday, and much of the same scenarios will apply to them.

**The Penguins trail the Islanders by two points with a looming game on April 17, the regular season finale. That’s essentially a tie, meaning if both teams held serve and it came down to that game, the Penguins would need to win in regulation, and the Islanders could (in theory) advance with a mere point.

**The Detroit Red Wings have been an enigma. They’ve been coughing up losses, even with Dylan Larkin back in the lineup. The Penguins trail the Red Wings, who are the first team outside the playoff seeds, by five points with one game in hand and a game on the schedule.

The Red Wings are 1-2-2 in their last five. So, the best-case scenario is that the Penguins are three points behind Detroit with one head-to-head waiting. With Detroit, it’s a one-game deficit.

**The Washington Capitals currently present the largest challenge. The Penguins trail the Capitals by five points and have played one more game. So, the best-case scenario is they trail by five points with a looming head-to-head. The Penguins could trail by three or five points with a regulation win, pending the Capitals’ outcome in that extra game.

Consider the Thursday head-to-head a must-win in order to pass the Capitals.

Should the Penguins lose, a six or seven-point gap over seven games would be a Mt. Everest-sized obstacle. Even if the Capitals won only three of their last seven, the Penguins might need at least 12 of their final 14 points, which is a 5-0-2 or a six-win finish.

If the deficit is three points, it’s essentially a two-game deficit. That’s how big Thursday’s game is.

The Flyers, Capitals, and Penguins currently have 28 regulation wins, which is the first tiebreaker. The Flyers and Capitals have 32 regulation/overtime wins, which is the second tiebreaker, while the Penguins are only one game back.

It’s a chaotic mess, but if the Penguins can string together a few wins, building on their five-game points streak (3-0-2), it’s going to get messier still. And a lot more fun.

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Vince Gori
Vince Gori
10 days ago

It isn’t over until the fat lady sings. We gave away too many points late in games and OT and it will probably come back to haunt us, but…..
Maybe the Hockey gods will allow them to atone for chocking on the last two winnable games to miss by a point.