Thursday’s game at Philadelphia is real close to must-win if the Penguins have any hopes of winning the Atlantic Division crown. The Pens currently trail the Flyers by 5 points (97/92) and have one fewer game remaining (10/9). For Pittsburgh to even be in this position after the injuries to Crosby and Malkin is a credit to the players and coaches. But now that they’re this close to a division crown, it’s hard not to think they’re capable of pulling it off. Why not? They’re 6-2-2 in their last 10 games and playing well overall.
But the Flyers are not making it easy for the Pens. Philadelphia has gone 4-0-3 in its last seven games, this coming after a four-game losing streak that had the Flyers looking vulnerable. And they’re doing it without Chris Pronger, who’s out with a hand injury. One (and perhaps the only) thing Pens fans can take solace in is Philly’s goaltending situation. Rookie sensation Sergei Bobrovsky has had a rough March (showing signs of fatigue?), and Brian Boucher is still Brian Boucher.
The only way Pittsburgh is going to pull this off is by beating Philly Thursday and next Tuesday. Nothing short of a complete Flyers collapse in April would help the Pens cause otherwise. It’s not like winning the division is absolutely crucial to postseason success, but adding another banner to the Consol rafters – and besting your bitter rival in the process – sure would be nice.