What the Pens say about their fight to make the playoffs

Games Wednesday at Colorado and Thursday at Dallas
Rakell Malkin Guentzel about to huddle
Photo credit Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan) – Now a point out of a playoff spot and four behind the Islanders for the top Wild Card position, the Pens play at red-hot Colorado (Wednesday) and at first-place Dallas (Thursday).

“We know it’s going to be two tough games,” said Pens forward Jake Guentzel. “Those are the games you want to play in, those are the fun ones. No better test for us than to go against those teams right now. It’s going to be a challenge, hopefully we are up to the task.”

“We’ve got some tough opponents coming up,” said Pens head coach Mike Sullivan. “As much as the loss stings (Monday). I do believe there is something to feel good about our game. Our compete level, our execution was pretty good. We had a lot of looks.”

The Avalanche have won six straight, 15 goals in their last three games and 25 in their last five. Over the same stretch the Pens scored three goals in their last three and 10 in their last five having lost four straight.

“First of all, we have to look at ourselves in the mirror and look at what we can do to improve instead of being scared of who we are playing against,” said Pens defenseman PO Joseph. “I think a little road trip like that will help the boys gather together and get back at it.”

“We just got to go a game at a time,” said Pens captain Sidney Crosby. “It’s tough on a night like (Monday) where you do a lot of good things and don’t get rewarded. Having a good look at the way we need to play as an example here will change the result next game.”

Time is running short, only a dozen games left and those multiple games in hand the team once had have disappeared. While the Pens have still played two fewer games than the Islanders, they have no further opportunities head-to-head.

·     The Isles last 10 games, six are against non-playoff teams.
·     Second Wild Card Florida has played one more game than the Pens, six of their final 11 are against non-playoff teams
·     In the Pens last 12 games, seven are against non-playoff teams although two of the last four losses were against teams not in the playoffs.

“Everybody scoreboard watches a little bit this time of year,” Sullivan said. “It’s human nature. We are focusing on what we can control in our game. The reality is we have opportunities in front of us and we have to grab some points. We knew this was going to be a fight to the end for a playoff spot.”

“We have to worry about ourselves and make sure we are trying to get as many points as we can,” Guentzel said. “Don’t look at other teams and control our own destiny.”

“We have to start winning games here,” said Pens forward Rickard Rakell. “We don’t have too many games left and we have to make another push. We don’t have time, we have to find it within our group and start taking the next level because we have some tough games coming up.”

“You never want to put yourself in that situation,” Guentzel said. “We’ve lost a couple in a row here now. The playoffs started for us already, it seems like. We got to get going. We can’t let points slip away.”

Featured Image Photo Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports