The Pens’ upcoming schedule suggests that they have a good shot at keeping up their recent string of strong games and staying near the top in the Atlantic Division. The Penguins’ next eight games before meeting the division-leading Philadelphia Flyers includes only one really strong team (the Columbus Blue Jackets, in a very tough road matchup), along several that have been competitive so far this year – the Thrashers (who the Pens already beat once), along with the Senators, Rangers and Maple Leafs. (And calling the Leafs competitive might be too generous, since they had a nasty 1-9-2 stretch just come to an end.)
After that, though, there are several games that might be a bit easier. The Pens face the Flames on Saturday – Calgary is in the midst of a three-game losing streak on a tough road trip and will play the Flyers on Friday, so hopefully they’ll be a bit worn down. The Pens also have games coming up against the Northeast Division cellar-dwelling Sabres, who they just beat, and the New Jersey Devils, who are on a modest two-game winning streak after struggling all year.
The Pens’ upcoming schedule isn’t easy, necessarily, but it isn’t difficult either, so hopefully the Pens can take some momentum into an important game against the Flyers on December 14. Wins against the Flyers and Rangers will give the Penguins a shot at taking over the top spot in the division within a few weeks.