So, Will the Penguins Watch Islanders, Panthers Games?
The Pittsburgh Penguins need help.
You might be able to take that sentence in a few different directions, but the team seems to have finally figured out how to play a structured, disciplined hockey game, not just through the end of the second period. However, they may have waited too long as the Florida Panthers and New York Islanders control the Eastern Conference wild cards with two games to play.
That means explicitly the Penguins do not control their fate, regardless if they win their remaining two games. They need Florida or New York to lose once in regulation.
Monday might be the Penguins’ best chance. You can get the complete scenarios and Penguins playoff odds here.
Florida hosts their division rival, the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have clinched second in the Atlantic Division but have not yet begun to coast to the finish line.
The Islanders host their division rivals, the Washington Capitals.
So, will the Pittsburgh Penguins be watching the games tonight?
“What games,” Casey DeSmith asked quizzically before PHN clarified. “Oh, those games. No.”
The rest of the crew knew well to which games we were referring.
“NO,” boomed Jason Zucker with an emphatic period on the sentence. He admitted he’d check the scores after 10 p.m. to see the situation, but watching didn’t interest him even a little.
Jan Rutta may have offered up the best explanation.
“Is it on Netflix? No, I won’t torture myself,” he said.
Whether or not the players hold true to their words and avoid the games altogether is another matter, but only a couple of players admitted they “might” watch the games.
Jeff Petry and Mikael Granlund offered maybes to the question.
The Penguins have indeed dug themselves a hole unlike any other in the Sidney Crosby era. Perhaps watching would only dredge the failures of this season. There are the blown multi-goal leads to the Islanders, the narrow misses against Boston, and the no-show losses too many to enumerate.
“I’m sure I’ll keep an eye out whether I watch it or watch the score, but it doesn’t change what we have to do,” said captain Sidney Crosby. “Obviously, we’ve got to worry about ourselves in that way.”
Crosby has willed his team this far and scored his 1500th career point Saturday with a two-goal, three-point game.
The Penguins must beat the Chicago Blackhawks, who are embroiled in a raging battle to the bottom of the NHL standings. There is gold in those hills, as the NHL draft lottery winner will get to select phenom Connor Bedard.
The Penguins host Chicago Tuesday.
Chicago is tied with the Columbus Blue Jackets for the fewest points in the NHL (both teams “trail” the Anaheim Ducks by two points).
The Penguins visit Columbus Thursday.
Both of the Penguins’ opponents are incentivized to lose. But they still need help.
“Might watch, but I’ll be paying attention one way or another,” Bryan Rust said.
Perhaps if things are going their way, the Penguins will pay closer attention. Washington took Florida to the limit Saturday. The game was tied 2-2 until Florida winger Mathew Tkachuk scored the game-winner with 60 seconds remaining.
Unfortunately for the Penguins, a Florida or New York OT loss is as good as a win since both own the Regulation Wins tiebreaker. The Pittsburgh Penguins come down to this. They need one of Florida or New York to lose one of their final two games in regulation.
It may be through fingers or with clenched teeth, but at least a few will be watching tonight.