by Tony on 03/29/11 at 11:15 AM ET
Yes, I realize that the Philadelphia Flyers still have a game in hand over the Penguins.
And yes, I realize that if the Penguins and Flyers are tied in points at the end of the regular season, the Flyers would easily win the “no shootout wins” tiebreaker.
But the fact remains that Penguins have a chance to at the very least temporarily tie for the Eastern Conference lead with a regulation win over the Flyers at the Consol Energy Center tonight.
And that, my friends, is pretty damn remarkable.
Every NHL team gets injuries, it’s an unfortunate part of the game. So it’s not like the Pens are the only team that has had to overcome injuries throughout the season.
But not every NHL team has had to attempt to overcome loss of their franchise player, let alone their top two.
But even if other teams have had to play through those injuries with replacements, whether via farm team or via trade, expectations naturally go down in terms of their chances in the postseason.
The Penguins, though, have erased all of those lower expectations as we get closer to the start of the playoffs. As a matter of fact, they’ve ramped up their recent play, and it is coinciding with their roster getting healthier.
It all starts between the pipes, with Marc-Andre Fleury, who I’ve criticized several times over the years, having a season that at the very least should be in the discussion for NHL MVP. His positioning, his technique, and perhaps most importantly, his lack of allowing the soft goal give the Penguins a huge confidence boost.
It then branches out to a defensive corps that has shutdown opponents more times than not. Their tenacity has frustrated opponents all season long, and that won’t be ending any time soon.
They’re tied for the #1 penalty kill in the league. So while the Penguins, frustratingly, still lead the league in PIM’s and every category within that, their PK has save their collective butt-ocks’ all season long.
And now, it sure as hell looks like we’re getting close to a return of Penguins’ captain Sidney Crosby.
Their resilience in the face of adversity has been fantastic to this point in the season. And if the Penguins can not only win tonight, but overtake the Flyers and win the Atlantic Division, it will be nothing short of remarkable.
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Welcome to The Confluence, a Pittsburgh Penguins blog since 2006.
Originally at Blogspot, then at MVN, TheConfluence has over 1500 articles reporting Penguins news as well as jumping on my soapbox to opine constructive Penguins criticism.
I am blogger- credentialed with the Pittsburgh Penguins. My posts are regularly linked by hockey websites such as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Yahoo!‘s Puck Daddy, and I’ve done numerous guest blogger spots on such websites asthe New YorkTimes. I am a retired U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer.
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