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Thursday Pens Points: Kings Gameday

Already fatigued Pens play 3 games in the next 4 days. Letang's return is his own decision. Bobby Ryan's season is over. Pens magic number for clinching the 8th consecutive playoff spot is 1.

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Victor Decolongon

There are certainly many cracks in the Pens' armor. Several things need to change, but in order for them to change, there has to be a realization on their part that change is needed.

The Pens record since the Olympic break is 6-6-2. Travel and condensed schedule has taken its toll in addition to the litany of injuries. Certainly fatigue is a factor, but the Pens are not alone here - all other teams have to contend with the same circumstances.

No rest for the weary, though, as the team will play 3 more games in the next four days. It all starts tonight with the matchup against one of the most defensively stingy teams in the NHL, the LA Kings, who have won 12 of their last 15 games, and can tie a franchise record of 8 straight road wins tonight. Here's your official gameday report, and here's the take from our opponents over at The Royal Half (thanks nut1976!).

One thing that the Kings are undoubtedly better at than the Pens is Twitter. The Kings Twitter feed is one of the best and funniest in all of professional sports. Pens Twitter, on the other hand, is a huge hit and miss. They mean well, but the whole #AskNeal campaign was a total and unmitigated disaster that regaled everyone for days.

Kris Letang has been medically cleared to return to hockey, but the return will be his own decision, as it should be. Kris skated before the team this morning, and has re-joined all the players on ice for the morning skate.

London Knights goalie Anthony Stolarz has been suspended 8 games for slashing an opponent in the head. Clearly the Flyers have finally drafted the next Ron Hextall.

Bobby Ryan will undergo season-ending surgery for an injury that has been nagging him since November. Might as well, since the Sens aren't going anywhere but the golf course this spring.

Back to the Pens. The magic number to clinch our 8th consecutive playoff spot is down to 1. Nearly there, and that in itself is an accomplishment considering 447 man-games lost to injury.

Five concerns heading into the playoffs. They are all real, and credible. I still have faith in this team, though. Hopefully they can overcome the obstacles and compete at their talent and skill level.