Given that it’s a short 56 game season, it’s probably never too early to check out the standings. Let’s take a Sunday peak at how things are going in the Eastern division
Every game in the division last night (Pens 4 NYR 3; Washington 4 Boston 3; Buffalo 4 New Jersey 3; Philadelphia 3 NY Islanders 2) ended in OT or SO, so all teams recorded at least one point on Saturday.
With 11 points in 9 games, the Pens are on a 68 point pace for the full season, with the season now 16% complete. Most playoff models currently have the playoff cut line at somewhere between 61-63 points based on how the results have come in so far.
It’s pretty interesting that Pittsburgh has played the clear three other strongest teams in the division for all their games so far, except for the three games against the Rangers. All the games against NYR have been wins to date.
WSH-BOS-PHI are an impressive combined 16-3-5 to start the season against the other the teams that are 4th-8th place in the division. None of the top three have played each other yet, except for the BOS/WSH game last night, so they will beat up on each other a bit as the schedule rotates through...But so far these 3 teams have really had their way, collectively, with the other teams in the division. (The one lone exception being the Pens going 2-0 vs WSH, even though for the Caps it was a 0-0-2 result with OT/SO points).
In fact, going further, take out how WSH-BOS-PHI has done against the Pens and those big teams are a combined 13-3-2 against teams in 5th-8th place in the division.
What this is adding up to is that the Pens need to show similar success against the BUF-NJD-NYI tier of teams. That will loom very large to determine whether Pittsburgh will be a playoff team or not. Interestingly enough, in that vein, after playing NYR on Monday, the Pens next five games are NJ-NJ-@NYI-@NJ-@NYI.