For Wilkes-Barre/Scranton winger Bobby Farnham, the upcoming seven-game road trip through the New England area is a homecoming of sorts.
The North Andover, Mass., native has had the games against Providence, Manchester, Portland and Worcester circled for quite some time.
“The first thing I did is look up when we would be playing there. That’s the perimeter around where I live and I’m pumped about it,” Farnham said.
Including Farnham, the Penguins have five players from the New England area who will be returning to their old haunts during the road trip. But homecomings aside, the next seven games could make or break the Penguins’ postseason hopes.
Entering tonight’s game against Providence, the Penguins sit in seventh place in the Eastern Conference — one point ahead of eighth-seeded Connecticut and three points above Manchester. In fact, the next seven games are against teams either trying to overtake the Penguins for one of the last playoff spots or vying for the division lead.
“One of the teams can get a division spot (Portland), but everyone else is fighting for the four through eight spots,” Penguins coach John Hynes said. “It lends to a little more intense trip.”
Aside from the March 20 game in Syracuse, the first six games of the road trip are against Atlantic Division opponents. Against teams outside of the East Division, the Penguins are 19-5-0-1, but they can’t count on past success to guide them through the upcoming trip.
Time won’t allow it.
When the Penguins return from the road, there will only be 12 games left in the regular season.
“This time of year it’s about getting points along with how you play,” Hynes said. “At this point, under 20 games, we’re aware of how quickly it goes by.”