(And commence flip out in 3.....2.....1...)
30th in a 31 team league isn’t great. Do the Pens miss Cole in this area? Probably. He’s just one guy in that group though so I think his importance or loss could be over-stated or over-analyzed a bit. The Pittsburgh PK was really good early in the season - from 12/1 to 2/23 they were #1 in the league with a 88.3% kill rate so maybe they were due for some regression no matter what.
The Pens also had to play all of the Cole-less stretch of the last few weeks without their starting goalie too since Matt Murray was hurt. Show me a backup and 3rd string goalie playing all the games over a period of time, and chances are I’ll show you a bad penalty kill.
It certainly is something to keep an eye on as the regular season winds down, though. The Pens have to get the PPG against down this time of year. It always seemed odd that for as much as Mike Sullivan would healthy scratch Cole, he would also plug him in as the lone defenseman in 3-on-5 situations.
Sticking with NHL.com, due to last night’s results the Metropolitan Division tightened up even more
Fans may gripe about the “loser point” for OT/SO contests from time to time (or constantly), but this is specifically why it exists. Teams have 8-9 games to go and the difference between first and fourth place in the Metro is five points. 2nd through 4th is basically a coin flip at this point and bound to have multiple changes in positioning as we go along. It makes for an exciting race and the regular season reaches its climax.
Better yet is the scheduling. For as bizarre and quirky as this season’s schedule was, the drama and intrigue will be high down to the wire
- 3/23 Penguins get the Devils at home.....3/29 Pittsburgh goes to NJ
- 3/25 The Pens look for a season-sweep of the Flyers
- 4/1 Pens/Capitals on April Fool’s Day!
- 4/5 In game 81 of the season, Pittsburgh travels to Columbus for what could be a game to determine both team’s playoff positioning
For hockey fans this is the best time of the year, and while we can lament some of the recent games that the Pens coulda/shoulda/woulda played a little better in and been in a better position, it will still be very fun and entertaining to see how they handle the challenges in the final games of the season.