Evening everyone. It's late in the season and every game takes on a bigger meaning. A month ago, the division looked signed, sealed and delivered for the Rangers. Then the Pens decided to get serious. And the Rangers cooled off. And the Pens have slowly crept up on the Rangers and now are quite large in the rear view mirror of New York. Despite missing Crosby for most of the season, the Pens lead the NHL in goals and have a PP in the top 10. The latter is baffling, given how bad the PP looks at times, but when it's clicking it is lethal.
Tonight's opponent is Nashville, a team solidly in the middle of the conference. This has seemingly been their lot for the last 5 years or so. This year's version actually has a decent offense though, so there's hope that maybe they will be more than early-round fodder this season. While it's strange to think of a team in Nashville being a Cup contender, it's no less absurd than "Carolina Hurricanes, 2006 Stanley Cup Champions".
With 10 games left, if the Pens want the Eastern Conference they need to win tonight and stay within a point of the Rangers before New York comes to the CEC. Tonight's performance will tell us if the Pens want the #1 seed, or if they're okay with the #4 seed and the Flyers in the first round. The Flyers have a huge game as well against a Capitals team that needs to get points before Buffalo rolls into DC for a must-win battle royale.
As always I expect a vocal crowd here. I've moved the NCAA games onto the smaller TV here- that's how much this game matters. Show some enthusiasm.