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One Reason for Hope as Pens Face Senators

The Penguins. They're not scoring, they're not winning, they're not healthy -- but we're saying there's a chance.

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Hey so the Penguins aren't so good right now. Three wins in their last ten games, none against an Eastern Conference opponent in that span and a two-goals-per-game team average since the trade deadline.

All that losing has left them up against the wall. The Penguins are set to take on the Ottawa Senators tonight in a game that could leave them tied in points not long after the Pens held a near-20 point cushion on Ottawa in the standings. Lose two of their last three and the Pens are probably out of the playoffs for the first time since 2006.

Ottawa's on points in eight of ten games. Pittsburgh has lost three straight and seven of ten. Trends are trending, and the odds aren't on the Pens.

But they still have the odds.

That is to say, the odds can't possibly keep stacking so badly against the Penguins.

Despite losing seven of ten, they've outshot their opponents in eight of those ten contests. It's a span in which they're averaging 34.6 shots per game. Over 82 games, that number would lead the league. Opposing goaltenders have a .948 save percentage on those 346 shots. Over 82 games, that, too, would be a league-leading number.

We know Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are still inventing their own scoring chances nearly every trip over the boards. On the whole, the Pens are still driving play more often than not. That's puck possession, shot suppression, the whole deal.

Injuries to key defensemen have blown their goals against numbers apart of late (as did a ridiculous cap oversight that left the team with five defensemen for several games). Injuries to Malkin and Patric Hornqvist slowed the offense to a crawl in March, a month in which the team's leading goals-per-game players appeared in just four combined games.

There are only three games left. Sample sizes are nothing now, and the team's bad luck could easily continue for these final contests.

But if the Pens keep applying the process, the product should soon reflect that.


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