So the Penguins are all but inked into a battle with the Columbus Blue Jackets for the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Last night's win placed the Penguins 2nd IN THE NHL in points passing the Jackets in the standings and handing them their 4th consecutive loss. The Blue Jackets are really coasting into the playoffs and as history has shown, it's not beneficial.
The Blue Jackets are considered the Cinderella story of 2017. Surpassing their winning % from 46.3% last season to 67.1% this season. That is one of the biggest single-season turnarounds this season outside of the Maple Leafs. The Jackets almost-historic winning streak of 16 games this season was so spectacular it reminded ESPN that hockey existed.
So the Penguins are taking on a young (25.5 average age) and top 5 biggest (206.3 average weight) teams in the NHL. The Penguins are a banged up bunch losing more man-games in the last 2 months than any other team in the NHL. Columbus is the sexy pick this year to topple the reigning Champions but seriously ... should we worry?
As you can imagine, there is 3 very different Blue Jacket's team. Pre-streak, streak, and post-streak.
As you can see that the post-streak Blue Jackets have just barely been a playoff team. The minimum to make a wild-card playoff appearance this year is 49.4% that the Maple Leafs achieved. The Jacket's goals per game have dropped over a goal a game since the streak and the power-play has been deplorable. I'm not going to detail the whole chart, you can read, and it's pretty straight forward.
So what powered that team to win 16 games in a row? What was so spectacular? Well, it wasn't the opposition ... only 31.25% of the teams they faced had a win % OVER 50%.
I'm not trying to shit on their accomplishment, but .... yeah I'm trying to shit on their accomplishment.
A team 5 games over .500 since "the streak" isn't going to scare me in the playoffs. The only thing that got better as the season went along is Bobrovsky (not by much).
There's no doubt that the Penguins are missing key players. The Penguins are missing (as of 4/5/17) 10.65m worth of black and gold humans and the Blue Jackets are missing 3.1m. Could that be a factor - sure - but the Penguins are 2nd in the NHL as of today despite losing half of their regular defensive starters, and a chunk of forwards.
The Pens are a phenomenal team now - as it stands - with incredible coaching, players stepping up, and the best goalie tandem in the league. When they get healthy, Malkin, Maatta,