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Penguins’ playoff picture is coming into focus

And it’s looking really good.

NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Nashville Predators Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Last night was a really, really good night for the Pittsburgh Penguins in the standings. Not only did they pick up two points, they got ideal results from across the league with the Islanders, Hurricanes, and Blue Jackets all losing in regulation. Here’s the look at the current standings:

Pittsburgh’s chances of staying in the Metro side by finishing in the top-three or first Wild Card spot are very high at this point, almost assured even. I believe NYI has about nine regulation wins in their last 26 games, they steam of their early season run has appeared to run out. This is good news for Pittsburgh, because according to Dom at The Athletic, the Islanders remain the top statistical first-round opponent for the Penguins at this point.

Dom has NYI vs. Pittsburgh at 42 percent, Carolina vs. Pittsburgh at 31 percent, and Washington vs. Pittsburgh at 30 percent as of today’s most likely eventual first round matchups. Almost all of these would take place in the No. 2 vs. No. 3 Metro playoff spot, though there are other statistical possibilities — like the Pens dropping to a Wild Card spot and facing division winning Washington.

Shrink that away and a No. 2 vs. No. 3 matchup at this point is looking very likely between two of the three of Carolina, NYI, and Pittsburgh (in some combination).

Got all that?

Technically, for Pittsburgh’s playoff spot, the magic number is 10. Any combination of 10 points won by the Penguins or lost by Columbus will clinch a spot.


Set your DVR (or if you’re an early riser than that’s just fine too), as Bryan Rust will be featured in NHL Network Ice Time’s “College Kids” edition this Saturday at 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. ET. Rust will be in animated form answering rapid-fire questions from fans.

You’ve totta love one of Rust’s funniest hockey memories:

“One of my first times being called up, I got pranked a little bit. Go out to practice just kind of getting ready to go, I look up in the rafters and there’s all my clothes just hanging down from the rink ceiling. It’s got my jacket on a hanger, my pants are nicely draped over, shoes are wrapped around it and I’m just kind of shaking my head.”

Weird how the clothes in the rafter gimmick disappeared from Pittsburgh right around the time Marc-Andre Fleury did, eh?