I wanted to drop in here with some thoughts on an important weekend for the Wilkes-Barre / Scranton Penguins and Providence Bruins, the two teams for the final spot in the Atlantic Division Playoff race.
First, I saw this tidbit a few days ago, but in order to guarantee another 40 win season, Wilkes-Barre needs to win its remaining games. That would give them a max point total of 90 which bleeds into my other topics.
Here’s how your weekend sets up for the Penguins…
Friday: Home game against the Binghamton Devils. Believe it or not, its the first visit the Devils will make to Wilkes-Barre all season. The Devils are the Eastern Conference’s worst team and it’s not close.
Saturday and Sunday: Overnight trip to Allentown to take on the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. The Phantoms are sixth in the division and three points off of the Penguins and six points off of the Providence Bruins. They have six games left, five after today when they rematch later against the Charlotte Checkers who obliterated the Phantoms Tuesday 5-1. The Checkers had a 19-3 shot advantage after the first period. This was a game that the Phantoms needed to win just to keep pace and lost. Stick a fork in them, they are done. Yet, they will host the Pens for two this weekend.
How They Match Up: The Pens are 6-4, including two overtime wins against Lehigh Valley. They have not lost to the Phantoms at PPL Center this season.
Here’s how the weekend sets up for Providence…
Friday and Saturday: A home and home against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers beginning Friday in Rhode Island. Bridgeport’s magic number is 2. They have a five point cushion on Hershey for second with two more games played, so they aren’t out of the woods yet as far as home ice advantage and have a lot to play for yet. So do the fourth place Bruins. They lead the Penguins by three points with equal games played.
How They Match Up: Sound Tigers lead the season series 6-3-1-0 including four overtime wins and a shootout win. Bridgeport has had the Bruins number of recent; two overtime wins, a shootout and regulation win to go with just one regulation loss in the last five recent meetings.
Providence also hosts Utica Sunday. The Comets have been in a nosedive, 1-8-1 in their last ten and aren’t going to make the postseason.
Conceivably, the Penguins could be a playoff team when the dust settles Saturday night, provided they win both games Friday and Saturday and Providence is swept by Bridgeport.
Should be an interesting weekend. Week 26 AHL Power Rankings are here Thursday, then the Gameday setup against Binghamton Friday at 3.