The Pittsburgh Penguins will be doing some post-season dancing. That much, we know for sure. Still up in the air, with most teams having 2-3 games left, is how the seeds will shake out.
Technically, the Pens could end up anywhere from the 4th to the 7th seed and could feasibly end up against Washington, New Jersey, Carolina or Philadelphia in round one.
Though really, the statistical favorite is the Pens end up with the 6th seed, a 78% chance Pittsburgh ends up there according to Sports Club Stats. The same site gives New Jersey a 94% chance of getting the 3rd seed---leaving just 3% remote chances that NJ catches Washington (bumping the Caps to the 3rd seed) or that Philadelphia catches NJ for the Atlantic division title.
So it is looking very likely that the Penguins are going to see Martin Brodeur, Zach Parise and the New Jersey Devils in the opening round of the 2009 playoffs. The other "by the odds" first round matchups, subject to change of course via the actual games played:
(1) Boston v. (8) New York Rangers
(2) Washington v. (7) Montreal
(4) Philadelphia v. (5) Carolina
In case you were wondering, the Pens took the season series 3-1-2 from New Jersey (though it's 3-3-0 from the Devs perspective). But the teams only have played once since January 30th, so both teams are much different now then when they played the bulk of their regular season series.
As always, it'll be interesting to see how everything shakes out down the stretch, but it definitely looks like the stars are aligning for Pittsburgh/New Jersey in the first round. And, at the risk of looking ahead too far, most expect Boston and Washington to defeat two struggling teams in NYR and Montreal. If that were the case, Pittsburgh would be heading to Boston for a second round matchup.
If you can't tell already, it's going to be a much different road through the playoffs for Pittsburgh this season (assuming of course they can hack it) than last year when the Pens took on a 7 seed, 5 seed and 6 seed to make it to the finals.