Good evening everyone. First I'd like to add a kudos to Chrome for saving this preamble after I accidentally closed Chrome. In the old days Explorer would lose my posts and I'd end up cursing, so it's only fair I tip the hat to the fine folks at Google. The lockout-shortened season is drawing down to its final games. Teams are in the middle of a mad scramble for playoff spots. One team not involved in that scramble is our beloved Penguins, who locked down the Atlantic last time out against Carolina. These things happen when one team rips off a 15 game winning streak while the rest of the division is unable to lace their skates on their own. This of course is not meant to demean the Pens and suggest their success is owed to a weak division- they are currently 7-0 against teams 2-4 in the East. They've also done this despite a number of injuries to significant players, one of which is to the greatest player in the world. His return is still a question mark at this point, though they really don't need him to see out the last 8 games of the season.
Despite having at worst the #2 seed, the Pens still have things to play for. The #1 seed in the East would be nice- say what you will about recent home playoff struggles, I'd still prefer a possible game 7 against Montreal to played in Consol. The Presidents' Cup is still possible though unlikely unless Chicago goes into the dumper. The Pens get back Letang tonight, which should be a significant help to the offense. They really miss his ability to carry the puck.
Tonight's opponent is the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tampa's somehow fallen out of the hobo fight that is the Southeast Division and is in Miracle Max territory to make the playoffs. They are still dangerous mostly due to the presence of Steven Stamkos. The Pens would be wise to keep a blanket on him at all times, especially on the power play.
Standings? Standings. http://espn.go.com/nhl/standings/_/group/2
I really hope the winner of the Southeast has the 9th most points in the East. Still possible this late in the year. Southeast Division Fever! Nails are being driven into the Flyers's coffin. Montreal and Boston each have games in hand on the Pens and both play the Pens here in the last few games (@Boston, and Montreal in Pittsburgh). If the playoffs ended today, the Pens would draw the Rangers. I'd be completely fine with that, though the bottom of the East is a fluid situation.
Despite the seeming lack of importance, tonight is important. Until everything is clinched that can be clinched the Pens need to go hard to the wire. Besides, most of the key players have already had breaks due to injury layoffs. Go Pens. Please don't contract Southeast Division Fever.