I delayed my usual posting of the Pittsburgh Penguins minor league updates because we are in the final stretch of the 2013-14 season and every game counts for teams making a playoff push, which when you are in the AHL and ECHL usually means games are played on the weekends. So let's take a look to see where we stand with just a few games remaining.
AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins
The Baby Pens are still battling it out for playoff positioning, their Magic Number to clinch a playoff spot is now down to 4 with just 5 games remaining in the regular season. They have a 40-23-3-5 record and have now fallen back to #2 in the East Division and #5 in the Eastern Conference.
They are currently tied with the Binghamton Senators for the least in their Division and as such the #3 seed, but the BSens have a game in hand still. They are also just 2 Points behind the St. John's IceCaps for #4 in the Conference, although likewise they have a game in hand over the Pens. The Providence Bruins are just 2 Points behind as the #6 seed. However, the Pens hold a more firm 5 Point lead over the #7 seed Albany Devils and 6 Points over the #8 seed Hershey Bears who have a game in hand. On the outside looking in are the #9 seed Norfolk Admirals who trail WBS by 7 Points but still have a game in hand.
The next two weekends will be really important, not only in locking WBS into a playoff spot, but also for determining the final seedings, as they face their Division rival BSens two more times.
While they have improved in recent weeks, the Baby Pens PP is still just #28 in the AHL at 13.8, while the PK is a solid #6 at 83.9. League wide WBS is currently #9 in the overall standings, while they are #20 with 195 Goals For and #1 with 172 Goals Against.
ECHL Wheeling Nailers
The Nailers clinched a spot in the 2014 Kelly Cup Playoffs over the weekend with just 2 games remaining this weekend. The final games will determine the final seedings and who the Nailers face in the opening round. The Nailers have a 38-26-1-5 record and currently sit at #7 in the Eastern Conference.
The Nailers currently trail the #5 Cincinnati Cyclones by 3 Points and the #6 Greenville Road Warriors by just 1 Point, although both teams have 2 games in hand over the Nailers. They hold a 2 Point lead over the #8 Fort Wayne Komets.
So in order to climb higher, the Nailers not only need to keep winning but also need their opponents to take key losses. On the plus side, the final two games are against the Cyclones, so if they manage to beat them over the weekend it kills two birds with one stone. Unfortunately, they have a big enough lead that the Nailers will also need them to lose both their games in hand if they wish to leapfrog over them in the standings.
The Nailers PP has improved a bit after some early season struggles, but they are #14 in the ECHL at 15.6, while the PK is just #13 at 84.4. League-wide they are #10 in overall standings, while they are #12 with 208 Goals For and #7 with 190 Goals Against.