The weekly Sunday standings post here is important, just ask Sidney Crosby!
Crosby on if the team is watching the standings more closely this season: "Yeah, I think we are. You have to worry about playing, but you also have to worry about the scenario you are in. With the season being so short and every game being divisional, that's a product of that."— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) February 27, 2021
And here’s how those standings look as of this morning:
Here’s the results of the week. Wins are highlighted in green, overtime losses get a yellow and a straight regulation loss is in red.
What was the story of the week? A quick jolt around the division.
A sneaky 3-0-1 week for the Caps, who begin and end the week beating up on the Devils. This team just keeps finding ways to drive regular season results and moves into first place in the division today, though perhaps temporarily since Boston has two games in hand while being just two points behind.
After starting the year so dominantly, especially against the tough competition of WSH-PHI-PIT, Boston managed to lose to both New York City, NY area teams by a combined score of 13-4 in a two day stretch. Weird. Brings them back to the pack that they were close to separating from based on the first 15 games of the season.
New York Islanders
After ending the week shaky last week with a couple of losses in Pittsburgh, the Islanders had a bounce-back week at 2-0-1, even though they lost again to the Pens in OT last night.
After getting blown out on the national stage in the Lake Tahoe game on Sunday, the Flyers also salvaged the week with a couple of wins to get back on track as they also get healthier and recover players from the COVID list.
It’s been a back-and-forth, up-and-down type of season for the Pens. That continued this week going 2-1-0. But all of these games were on the road and against tough competition, so it bodes well for the Pens to collect these points where they can.
New York Rangers
Just when you’re about to count the Rangers as down for the count, they go and blow out the best team in the division. That’s NHL parity hockey, baby! If the Rangers can keep it up, they’ll stay in the hunt for the playoffs but their points% puts them in a bit of a hole right now. It’s critical for them to have a very good week in the coming games to stay in the chase.
New Jersey Devils
A tough 1-3-0 week for the Devils, who have pretty much given up all the ground they gained after a surprisingly strong start to the season. Just having a .500% points percentage as they do now on the season is not going to be enough to make the playoffs with such strong competition and this week was a major step back to only gain two points.
As if it couldn’t get any worse for Buffalo, captain and star player Jack Eichel has missed the last two games with injury, and they were both losses. Their already slim playoff hopes are fading by the day with a 1-2-1 week where they are already behind the 8-ball to keep up with the rest of the division.
Here’s Micah’s point projections and also playoff stats, with data as of Saturday (so it doesn’t take into account yesterday’s results).
Point projections over the past fortnight. pic.twitter.com/y4vxIjsEl3— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) February 27, 2021
Micah thinks 63.6 points is now the magic number to make the playoffs — this is tightening up with WSH and NYI making moves in the last two weeks, and PHI and PIT mostly treading water. Boston isn’t in too much trouble...Yet. But if they keep falling the race for a tight division could include them in the mix as well.
Playoff chances, over the past fortnight. pic.twitter.com/95d320tjYY— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) February 27, 2021
The Pens remain in strong shape for the playoffs, relative to everyone else. This model basically thinks what most people think: there are four playoff spots and five serious contenders. Someone is going to be left out between BOS-PIT-PHI-WSH-NYI.
Which, every game in a season against only division opponents is critical, but it was a good sign for Pittsburgh to win 2 out of 3 on the road against tough competition. If they can keep at that rate, they will be in good shape.
The week ahead
Every team in the division is in action today, with three rematches from games we saw yesterday. This is an opportunity for all the teams that lost yesterday to make up that ground and keep it even.
The matchups that standout in the coming week is the Washington/Boston games, which will get the spotlight as the only games in the division on both Wednesday and Friday. These games will likely determine which team is in first place in next week’s Sunday Standings.
Also, while not being homers, the Pens/Flyers series of three games in Pittsburgh on Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday is such a massive matchup for this time early in the year and will drastically effect the season, especially if one of those teams goes 3-0-0 or 2-0-1 against their biggest rival. With these games in Pittsburgh and with the Flyers 2-0 on the season series the onus will be on the Pens to get some positive results.
The other item that stands out is the Islanders have three of quote unquote easy games against lower-end teams after they’re done with the Pens today. Will NYI be able to “hold serve” and pile up the points this week while the rest of the top of the division ends up beating up on each other? That will also be something to watch for as the Islanders continue to chug along.