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How bad can the Penguins afford to play?

Four points over three games seems like an admirable feat.  Especially when you consider the fact that Pitt did this all under the watchful eye of a new coach.  But just how good do they have to play if they want to make the playoffs?

Or maybe the better question is how bad can they afford to play?

With 21 games remaining on the schedule, Pittsburgh finds themselves on the outside looking in.  It's safe to say they remain in striking distance of a playoff spot, but tenth place in the Eastern Conference is hardly flattering at the moment.

Given the notion that 91 points secures a playoff spot, Pittsburgh has to post a 13-7-1 or 14-7 (92 points) record over the next two months if they hope to snag a spot.

If you look back over the schedule a few games will stand out as obvious abrasions in the loss column.  Just last week the Pens dropped one to the Leafs in regulation and squeaked out a point against the Islanders in a shootout.  Given the records of those teams, Pitt should have walked away with an easy four points.  Instead, they pulled only one.

How about that December 23 loss to the Lightning?  You know, the 2-0 shutout. 

Or maybe that 3-2 shootout loss to the Rangers on December 3.

These games stung at the time and will continue to sting until Pittsburgh can put it all behind them in the first round of the playoffs.  Nothing can change the  race better than the present.  Time for Pitt to buckle down and make a 14-7 run.