The one team I really do not want to see in Round 1 is the Penguins. You all know the reasons, and probably share them.
The best thing that could happen here is for Carolina to fall off a cliff, pushing the Pens into 5th (aside: I would pay money to see a brutal 7-gamer between the Phlyers and Whiney & Co) and the Rangers into 6th. There's no team I would feel better against than the Rangers, if you'll permit another aside.
If I can get this thing to format right (odds: low; zero idea how to insert a table from Excel in here), here is a look at Pitt's and Carolina's remaining schedules, and how they stack up.
- NYR @NJD
- NJD NYR
- @CAR PIT
- @FLA NYI
- @TBL BUF
- NYI @NJD
The big thing that jumps out, obviously, is the April 4 game between the two teams. I will be praying to God that that the Pens win that one in regulation. The other thing is that they have a lot of common opponents - they both play the Devils, Rangers, and Islanders. The "odd" games have Carolina against Buffalo and @ the Devils (last game of the season, perhaps NJ has a spot locked up and takes the night off?); the Pens are @Tampa and @Montreal. Looking like easy points, thank God.
And of course the Pens have a game in hand, thanksbetothedinosaurrider. Of course, they do have a road back-to-back in there.
Looking at the schedule, I don't think either of them is particularly brutal, but the Pens looks slightly better - I like the FLA, TBL, NYI, MTL stretch to end the season. The Pens currently are 2-1 against the Canes (dunno if any of those were in OT, though). In the end, I think the Pens push into 5th place by a whisker. Carolina has to cool off eventually, right?