HotTake Tuesday: The Penguins Metro Woes

Afternoon HotTakes to get you thru the rest of your day! Today, Andy Hughes joins Nick and James to discuss the Penguins Metropolitan Division woes, whether or not the NY Rangers can keep their heads above water, their early favorites for the Calder Trophy, and so much more! Eat up, yinz!

Will The Penguins Metropolitan Woes End In Another Early Playoff Exit?

Richter: The interesting thing to me is that the teams in the division giving the Penguins fits have some similarities, but they’re so different stylistically. The Isles have good depth and production on all lines, the Rangers can choke you out or play an upbeat style, and the Caps and Ovechkin have been much more poised. The Rags always have a chance with Henrik Lundqvist in net and Rick Nash is having an incredible season. The Caps are a much more balanced team and should get better at the deadline. The Isles. Well, they might just be the biggest threat for the Pens in the playoffs. I don’t think there is one Pens fan that feels comfortable with facing any of these teams in the playoffs.

Conley: Ran some numbers for a piece over at Pensburgh and yeah they aren’t going anywhere this postseason. They are 2-6-2 against the Isles, Rangers and Capitals, who are unequivocally going to reach the postseason (the Flyers are the closest team that could knock them out of the new divisional format and they are 11 points back with their starting goaltender on the mend). In those 10 games, the Pens have been outscored 39-19. They haven’t scored a single goal against the Capitals, haven’t beaten the Rangers without the shootout and have looked worse against the Islanders than perhaps any other opponent this season. They are toast.

Hughes: I’m not going to count them out yet, but things need to change…fast. The Penguins have been embarrassed by most of the teams in the Metro and that just can’t continue to happen. Sure, they’ve had injuries, but so has every other team. It’s not an excuse when this team has Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin AND Kris Letang. Jim Rutherford needs to add a player or two to help this team get deeper. If the team continues to get blown out by Metro opponents towards the end of the season, it could be another early start to the offseason for Pittsburgh.

Lundqvist to miss three weeks
with vascular injury.
Can the Rangers stay afloat?

Richter: I’m not going to count them out. We have all seen what a team can do with their biggest stars injured. The Rangers will have to make some adjustments to help out Cam Talbot, but they’re not going to drop out of the playoff race in three weeks. Even if they did, Lundqvist coming back will be the boost they need to make a run at getting back in the top 8 in the East.

Conley: Nah, they already had problems with depth prior to this and now Cam Talbot is probably due for a little bit of exposure. Imagine if Rick Nash goes cold over the next few weeks? They will likely get passed up by the Capitals and move into Wild Card position but they aren’t going to come anywhere near the wrong side of the playoff bubble.

Hughes: No way. The Rangers have a good team but they are nothing without Henrik Lundqvist. Rick Nash has been unreal this season, but they can’t just lean on him without the great goaltending they’re used to getting.

Can Devin Dubnyk drag the Minnesota Wild into the playoffs?

Richter: What a roller coaster of a season in Minnesota. It feels like just yesterday Mike Yeo was moments away from being canned and now we’re talking about them potentially making the playoffs. Doobie has given them a boost, now they need to continue riding this wave. The Flames are starting to dwindle and the Jets are no longer flying high with Evander Kane opting for shoulder surgery. The West is still difficult, but I think they might just sneak in.

Conley: You would think so, given that the Wild Card teams they are looking to overtake are Winnipeg and Calgary, which they trail by 8 and 5 points, respectively. Those teams seem due for a regression, but they’ve seemed that way all year. And if any team is going to bump them from the picture, it’s probably going to be the Kings. So Minnesota will come close, but I don’t think it’s happening this year.

Hughes: I don’t see the Wild making the playoffs this year, but I think Devan Dubnyk will keep them in the race for a bit. That’s not what Minnesota fans want to hear, but I think Dubnyk has found a nice home there. No goaltender is going to be good in Edmonton with that defense. The Oilers totally destroyed his confidence and I’m glad that Dubnyk is getting an opportunity to play for a team that plays well in front of him. While he’s doing a great job there, I don’t think it will be enough to send the Wild back to the playoffs.

Early Calder Favorite and why?

Richter: Forsberg, Ekblad, and Gaudreau are making it the most interesting Calder race since Crosby/Ovechkin. Each player has been phenomenal, but it’s got to be Forsberg. Ekblad and Gaudreau are incredible in their own rights, but Forsberg and the Predators are making the playoffs. I think Calgary and Florida will fall just short of making it and that’s going to mean a lot come vote time. Plus it’s fun to say Filip Forsberg.

Conley: Forsberg. Ekblad and Gaudreau might be full money for how they stack up against Forsberg in terms of productivity and impact, but Ekblad’s Panthers aren’t going to make the playoffs and Gaudreau’s Flames could conceivably fall out of the race. Nashville is going to have home ice through a couple rounds if not the entire thing and Forsberg has probably been their best all-around forward to this point. That won’t be ignored.

Hughes: This rookie class has been a lot of fun to watch and I’m not sure many people expected that. There are plenty of good candidates for the Calder such as Aaron Ekblad and Johnny Gaudreau, but I have to agree with Conley with the Filip Forsberg choice. The Nashville Predators have been one of the biggest stories this season and Forsberg has been a large part of that. Ekblad and Gaudreau have been awesome for Florida and Calgary, respectively, but I just cannot see them getting the Calder over Forsberg at this point.

Drunk Zamboni Driver

Big machines and a guy four times over the legal limit… This is going go get weird, guys.

Richter: Tough times for Zamboni drivers… They’re are taking this “no more dry scrape” thing really hard.

Conley: Well my bucket list just grew by one.

Hughes: Wow, nothing really surprises me anymore. I wonder if they had him try to walk in a straight line on the ice. That would have been quite a sight.




Hughes: We’ve got Marcel Goc and you don’t!

Thanks for reading HotTake Tuesday! Special thanks goes out to Andy  for jumping on with us today… Give him a follow on the twitter machine. You can also follow James and Nick on twitter as well. Feel free to email, use the hashtag #HotTakeTuesday on twitter, tweet us directly, or facebook us any questions or topics you might have. We look forward to providing you with flaming hot takes every Tuesday. 

Stay Classy.