Starting Saturday, the Penguins start a stretch of 9 games in 18 days. (That's an average of a game every other day for you non-math majors out there). All of these games are divisional games.
Let me repeat: ALL OF THESE GAMES ARE DIVISIONAL GAMES.
Coaches and players often stress the importance of facing their divisional rivals, since it's basically a 4 point swing in each contest. That means, 4 points a game for 9 straight games is 36 point swing in shaping the division.
The next 9 games of this season will basically shape the way it's going to be for the Penguins. If they struggle, they will lose a lot of ground in what figures to be one of the toughest and most competitive divisions in the NHL. If they play about .500 hockey like they've done all season then things will like be clustered.
But if they can turn in solid efforts every night, get some goals from a forward not named Crosby, Malkin or Sykora (which hasn't happened since Jordan Staal scored his only goal of the year on 10/20) and rattle off a big win streak then this could give a little breathing room and instill in the confidence needed to feed off of for the rest of the season.
The upcoming schedule looks like this:
Sat Nov 3, 2007
Penguins at Islanders
A trip to Long Island for a game against the scrappier than predicted Isles.
Mon Nov 5, 2007
Penguins at Devils
A first look at the Devils new home.
Wed Nov 7, 2007
Flyers at Penguins
This game will be slightly more intense than the average game.
Thu Nov 8, 2007
Penguins at Rangers
3rd game in 4 nights and a decent amount of travel too.
Sat Nov 10, 2007
Penguins at Flyers
The Flyers are tops in the division right now, but a lot of hockey to go.
Mon Nov 12, 2007
Devils at Penguins
The start of a 4 game homestand and a rare 2 day break after this game
Thu Nov 15, 2007
Islanders at Penguins
Yet another game against the Isles.
Sat Nov 17, 2007
Rangers at Penguins
Yep, it's these guys again
Wed Nov 21, 2007
Devils at Penguins
Seriously this is 4th time in 35 days the Pens and Devils will have played