Gameday 69: Not Nice

For the sake of their playoff hopes, the Pittsburgh Penguins really could have used a win over the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday. Like New Jersey, Pittsburgh’s playoff chances are dangling by an increasingly fragile thread, and a win would have at least helped the Penguins keep pace with the Philadelphia Flyers who also won on Tuesday. Alas, Pittsburgh’s will to win evaporated in the third period as the Devils got rapid-fire goals from Alexander Holtz and Dawson Mercer, and a late goal from Bryan Rust served as just a consolation on an otherwise disappointing 5-2 loss for the Penguins. Pittsburgh’s odds to make the playoffs are now very scant – sub-5% from the looks of most the analysts out there – and now they face road games against two definite playoff teams and possible Stanley Cup finalists in the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche. The Penguins aren’t completely cooked yet, but we’re getting closer to that point.

Even though there’s not much left to say at this point, we still have thirteen games to go. For some people that may seem like still enough time to climb into a playoff spot, but the reality is that this Pittsburgh team (called by some “The Zombie Penguins”) is facing massive odds to do so. I can’t pretend that I like their chances of making the playoffs better than having a high-value first round draft pick in June, but because they would only get a better value draft pick by losing as much as they can, it flies in the face of what professional athletes are paid to do. It’s really not a happy time to be a sports fan, having to follow a team that can only hope to win and keep their championship dreams alive while simultaneously knowing that failure is still some success by design of the draft lottery system. I don’t want the Penguins to lose but, unless they win every game from here on, there isn’t much hope to be had.

So unfortunately we are definitely in “play out the string” time on the regular season schedule, and each of us has something we are rooting for. I think we all want Sidney Crosby to keep scoring points so he can have another season scoring a point-per-game, but beyond that there is no harmony to be had in our fandom. We’re just waiting for the end now, waiting to see how the dust settles, waiting for something better than what we’re currently experiencing, even if that doesn’t come again until next season.

“Waiting for the end to come
Wishing I had strength to stand
This is not what I had planned
It’s out of my control”