If there’s anything about the regular season that matters in the playoffs, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton forward Spencer Machacek has the numbers on his side.
Machacek sat out three of the four games against Binghamton in the opening round as the veteran scratch. Coming into the Providence series, which begins this Friday at home, Machacek’s success against the Bruins this season may make an already difficult decision for Penguins coach John Hynes ever harder.
Before Machacek was traded to the Penguins late in the regular season, he played against Providence seven times as a member of the Springfield Falcons. During those seven games, Machacek posted five goals and six points.
And just for good measure, the only time he faced the Bruins as a Penguin, Machacek recorded two of his team’s three goals in a 4-3 loss.
Add it all up, Machacek averaged a goal per game against the Bruins during the regular season. Is it enough to keep him safe from the dreaded veteran scratch scenario?
“It’s always a factor,” Hynes said about a player’s previous success against an opponent. “But it’s not the end-all factor. The veteran scratch is always tough because Spencer can help us win a game on any night. It’s never easy to sit those guys out.”
Machacek agrees. He said the regular season success is nice, but when it comes to the veteran scratch during the playoffs, it’s all about one thing: dressing the lineup that gives you the best chance to win.
“Coach has been really straight-forward with us about it, and it’s worked,” Machacek said. “I don’t think the regular season success carries over to the playoffs. You have to be confident in yourself no matter who you’re playing.”
• C Andrew Ebbett didn’t practice on Tuesday. Hynes said he had a “maintenance day.”
• Anton Zlobin practiced with the red “no contact” jersey and is making progress in his recovery from an upper-body injury, Hynes said.
• Once again the Penguins will offer kids the chance to come to a game for free during the Providence series. Children 14 and under can receive one free ticket with each purchase of an adult ticket for the same game. A limited number of these tickets will be available for each game on a first-come, first-served basis. Puck drop for both games at Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza is 7:05 p.m.
Tickets are on sale now at the Penguins ticket office, the Mohegan Sun Arena box office or by calling the Penguins front office at 570-208-7367.