Penguins

NHL.com Editor Rourke Previews Eastern Conference Playoff Field

By Matt Popchock
CONSOL Energy Center during Pens playoff game

(File Photo: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

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PITTSBURGH (93-7 THE FAN) — Although the Penguins fell to the lowly Sabres at CONSOL Energy Center again Tuesday night, they have been dominant against the more relevant competition in the Eastern Conference, posting a staggering 24-4 record against possible playoff opponents.

A man who spent many years on their beat, 93.7 The Fan’s own Tab Douglas, recently caught up with NHL.com managing editor Shawn Rourke to help him handicap the Stanley Cup Playoff picture in the East.

Tab thinks a Pens-Sens opening series is in the cards, and he also thinks the Pens, once again, are their own worst enemy this spring. That said, Rourke generally likes the way Dan Bylsma’s team is finishing the regular season, and doesn’t foresee this Penguin squad falling into the same web of complacency as a year ago, regardless of whom they face.

“I think anytime somebody thinks that, this vision of the Philadelphia Flyers from last year jumps into their heads,” he said. “I think that’s all Bylsma has to do, just remind them of what happened in the first round of the playoffs. You can have all the skill in the world, but if you don’t put your head on straight, it doesn’t really matter.”

So are they the scariest team in the field? Rourke began the conversation by telling Tab he thinks so:

Jarome Iginla has certainly helped make them scary. “Iggy” has nine points in 11 games since joining the Pens, and extended his goal streak to four games Tuesday.

In the meantime, a rejuvenated Jussi Jokinen has eight points in as many games since being claimed off waivers from the Carolina Hurricanes, against whom the Pens close the regular campaign here Saturday at 7:30 on ROOT Sports.

He and Tab went on to discuss the Penguin newcomers, and which one(s) they find most likely to step up in the postseason. Rourke also talked about why both of the New York teams, not just the Rangers, could be the biggest threat to the Penguins.

Stay tuned to SportsRadio 93.7 The Fan for further Pens coverage as the buildup to the playoffs continues, and for related reading, check out the “Shea-ved Ice” blog on our website.

Plus, be sure to catch the latest edition of “The Matt Cooke Show,” as heard Wednesday during the final hour of “Vinnie & Cook” on The Fan.

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