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Goaltenders, Jeff Carter and playoff matchups

It’s a light day as Christians around the world celebrate the resurrection. Saturday was a sour day on Pittsburgh Penguins grounds as the team dropped another close game against a good team. The playoffs are approaching and goaltenders will be a big issue, as will the Penguins midfielder.

Of course, the struggle also means competition on social media is growing to be right about the Penguins’ impending doom.

If one more person uses the phrase “I’ve been saying since…” regarding a Penguins first-round loss, I might have to Dox you. Fatalists sometimes make this work painful and the comments section unbearable. Relax. There is no point system for most dire predictions.

The Pittsburgh Penguins will be an underdog in their Round One series. It’s just a fact.

Saturday we learned Tristan Jarry would come out week by week. Dave Molinari and Mike DeFabo finally confirmed the story Saturday night that Jarry has a broken bone in his foot. That means Jarry isn’t out for a week or two, but probably several weeks, which pushes into the first round or beyond.

Now this is where it gets ironic.

1. Pittsburgh Penguins playoffs

The Penguins fight against Washington Capitals for third place in the Metro Division. The winner will likely face the New York Rangers, right? Many readers claimed that it would be good to land the joker, because the opponent would be the Carolina Hurricanes, with whom the Penguins are quite competitive.

However… that’s probably wrong.

New York is hot and poised to overtake Carolina for the number one spot on the subway. The Boston Bruins tied the Penguins on points (97) and have two games in hand. Combine them, and the Pittsburgh Penguins’ third-place finish is likely vital to their survival. Third place probably means the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round, and a wildcard means… the Florida Panthers.

Florida is a beast. They roll four lines with malicious and destructive teams. No one will predict more than a five-game streak if such a matchup with the Penguins occurs. We’re talking about Dexter’s table here.

However, if the Penguins got third place, it looks like Carolina would be in the same situation as the Penguins. Frederick Andersen had to leave the game after a frightening injury on Saturday night. He grabbed a skate blade, or his leg bent – it was a solo, non-contact act. He had to be helped off the ice.

The Penguins have a fighting chance against Carolina. Be healthy, gain momentum. Who knows where this leads. Draw Florida in the first round…it’s like drawing Bob Pompeani in the first round of the annual Joey Bag of Donuts media personality pool. (Last year he gave me Mike Lange in Rd. 1. He’s evil).

2. Jeff Carter

The Penguins need more. Lots more Big Jeff Carter. On Saturday, the Penguins’ second line had just one shot and no scoring chance. It’s been a recurring trend lately. Since signing a two-year contract Jan. 26, Carter has 16 points (7-9-16) in 35 games, which isn’t bad, but he’s under nine in that span.

Carter was a minus every game in April and a minus-10 this month.

The team cannot continue to be a one-line team, relying solely on Sidney Crosby and the power play for offense.

Jeff Carter has played 71 games, and maybe the 36-year-old center needs a break before the playoffs?

3. Funny feelings

I had the funny feeling all season that Louis Domingue was going to play a part in the fate of the Penguins, and in a good way. The story of the training camp still looks like yesterday. If you don’t remember, Domingue alluded to struggles over the past two years, and his phrasing was a bit surprising. I asked him to clarify because I didn’t want to put words in his mouth and say that he had lost his motivation. Instead, he said it. And much more. And he also talked about the fire new Penguins goalie coach Andy Chiodo has given him.

After his stellar preseason (he stole a game with the Penguins AHL roster against Buffalo’s starting roster), I was surprised neither Buffalo nor Edmonton hung him on waivers. Especially Buffalo.

When he got his NHL chance in January, bad luck fell on Domingo after a brilliant road win over the San Jose Sharks. He stopped 40 of 41 shots and stole two points for the Pittsburgh Penguins. He was supposed to start the next game in Pittsburgh, but broke his foot during morning practice.

I don’t believe in luck but in preparation and hard work. And harder work. Domingue has been on track all season to reaffirm his NHL career. He has a .924 save percentage with the WBS Penguins and has been very, very good in every way.

I am NOT of the opinion that the Penguins rule out Casey DeSmith. And, responding to comments from several readers, never use the phrase “see what he’s got.”

He played 141 NHL games during his career. Penguins management is watching the WBS Penguins closely. They know what he has. It’s kind of their job.

It would protect DeSmith a bit as he faces Domingue in a few of the Penguins’ final games. The smaller the book the first-round opponent has on DeSmith, the better. And maybe, just maybe, Domingue is the Cinderella story you’ve been waiting for.

Questions from readers…

Of course, if DeSmith or Domingo don’t perform well, our comments section will be full of people writing, “I’ve been saying since…they should have traded for a goaltender!”

For the record, PHN looked into the goalkeeper market last summer. The prices were exorbitant. Remember the Colorado Avalanche ransom for Darcy Kuemper (strong prospect Connor Timmins, first-round and third-round conditional).

Journeyman Scott Wedgewood (fourth-rounder), a washed-out Carter Hutton (future considerations) and minor leaguer Andrew Hammond (minor leaguer) were the only goaltenders treated as the deadline approached.

None are better than what the Penguins currently have. Could the Penguins have traded for a goaltender? Not really. It just wasn’t doable.

And, if you want to subscribe to PHN+, for Easter Sunday only, I’ll take pounds of Swedish Fish or DOTS.