There is a lot of talk these days about what match ups fans would like to see in the post-season.
"Our team owned your team in the regular season."
"Our team kicked your team's ass in the regular season."
With the Pittsburgh Penguins fighting for a playoff spot and having struggled this year, Bruins, Devils, Capitals and Flyers fans all smell blood.
Many commentators claim that any team will dread playing the Penguins in the first round, but they haven't been able to convince the fans.
I'd like to add some food for thought with regards to the Penguins performance in the regular season versus their post-season results.
To do this, I'll reference last season since the Pens played in every round and a lot of those players are still with the squad.
Pittsburgh vs. Ottawa
Ottawa owned Pittsburgh in the regular season with a record of 3-1-0 with one win in overtime and a goal advantage of 17-14. In the first round of the playoffs, however, Pittsburgh swept Ottawa and outscored them by a whopping 16-6.
Pittsburgh vs. New York
Pittsburgh's record against the Rangers was basically even at 3-3-2 though New York outscored the Penguins 21-16. Again, Pittsburgh defeated their opponent in a convincing fashion, this time four games to one with a goal advantage of 15-13.
Pittsburgh vs. Philadelphia
While Philadelphia beat Pittsburgh five out of their eight games and usually by multiple goal margins, they only outscored the Penguins by a single tally with 26 goals. In the Eastern Conference Finals, Pittsburgh smushed the Flyers in five games with 19 goals compared to only eight for Philadelphia.
The comparisons must end here, as Pittsburgh didn't face Detroit in the regular season. The Penguins fell to the Red Wings in six games with Detroit topping the Penguins in goals 16-10.
Pittsburgh's records against the top four teams: 1-2-0 vs. Boston, 2-1-2 vs. New Jersey, 1-3-0 vs. Washington and 4-1-0 vs. Philadelphia.
Five of these games went to overtime or a shootout. The Penguins have only three games remaining against these opponents.
Many people say that the playoffs begin at the trade deadline.
Since the deadline
The Penguins are 3-0-2, Boston is 3-3-0, New Jersey is 3-1-0, Washington 3-1-1, Montreal is 2-2-1, the New York Rangers are 3-2-0, Carolina is 3-1-2, Florida is 1-2-2, and Buffalo is 2-2-1.
Pittsburgh and Carolina are the hot teams heading down the stretch with eight points separating seven teams in the Eastern Conference standings.
With eleven to fifteen games to go for the top ten teams, there is a lot of playoff hockey before we get to the postseason.
Whatever happens during the regular season, teams play the first round with a clean slate. The regular season record merely determines home ice advantage.
The Penguins are setting the tone now and started their run to the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 9-1-3 record under interim coach Dan Bylesma and a healthy roster.