HotTake Tuesday: Are The Penguins Destined To Miss The Playoffs?


In this week’s edition of HotTake Tuesday, Nick and James are joined by Ian Altenbaugh to discuss if the Penguins are destined to miss the playoffs, what’s wrong with David Perron, and if the Pens recent struggles will be enough to rally them.

Are the Pens destined to miss the playoffs?

Richter: All good things come to an end at some point, however, I don’t think this is that moment for Pittsburgh. Even though things have been rocky, the Pens still control their own destiny, and a regulation win tonight against the surging Sens gives them an Eastern Conference Wild Card spot. If they lose tonight, or give up an overtime point to the Sens, look out. They’ll be in major trouble. If they do miss the playoffs, there’s gonna be a massive overhaul in the offseason.

Conley: We have to start thinking of Bylsma’s regular seasons try-hard teams as absolute miracles. This is what is supposed to happen to a team that keeps losing its best players year after year after year. 2011 and 2014 have to be all-time unlikely.

Altenbaugh: They could miss the playoffs. I doubt it though. The team needs overhauled regardless. They have a nice group of 4th line wingers. It’s too bad that those 4th liners are flanking their 2nd, 3rd, and 4th line centers.


Will recent struggles help to rally the Pens?

Richter: I’m probably going to be far too positive in each of these answers, but why not? I do think the recent struggles can help provide the Penguins with a much-needed wake-up call heading into the Stanley Cup Playoffs… assuming they make it, of course. We’ve seen the Penguins storm through March in recent seasons, only to falter in the postseason. Maybe struggles before the playoffs will help them to deal with them during the playoffs. Either way, the playoffs start now for Pittsburgh.

Conley: Getting the unavailable 75 percent of the their top-four defense group back into the lineup would probably help the rally.

Altenbaugh: If the Penguins play were simply a result of them not trying enough I might be a little more positive. But the team is so bereft of talent, I don’t believe it would matter who their coach was. The entire season has been hardship for the Penguins. Shouldn’t the hardship the experienced in February help them through the hardship they’ve experienced in April? They knew they had to win that Flyers game. They lost.


What’s up with David Perron?

Richter: Call it bad PDO or whatever, but eight games without a point, and just 12 points in his last 30 games… that’s unexcusable for a player with his talent. Granted, Perron isn’t the only Penguin not finding his name on the scoresheet… but he’s definitely sliding under the radar and is part of the problem right now and the Pens need him producing. If his name was Chris Kunitz right now, fans would be calling for his head… Kunitz has taken a great deal of backlash from Pens fans (and deservedly so…) but hardly a word about Perron’s production… Weird, you bunch of ageists!

Conley: Shooting percentage has fallen off a cliff over the last month, but so has the shooting percentage of everyone else on the roster. Someone needs to rivet him to Sid’s hip, both on the first line and on the power play.

Altenbaugh: Kunitz has only 2 goals in that same span. Perron has 6. Let me repeat. Chris Kuntiz has 2 goals in his last 30 games. He has 6 in his last 42. Perron has 12 in his last 41. That’s a 24 goal pace for Perron. A 12 goal pace for Kuntiz. Historically speaking, Perron is a 40-50 point guy. So he’s more or less on pace. He was always streaky too. I think a big issue is how he is constantly thrown on RW with Crosby. Perron’s comfortable position is on the left, playing on his off-wing. I’d be interested to see the stats between when he’s on the left side and the right side.

I think we can also realistically expect Perron come back next year and score 20-30 goals. Kunitz now looks like a third or fourth liner who is making almost 4 mil per year. Regardless, the Pens need both to be producing and neither are.

Have Jim Rutherford’s trades backfired?

Richter: They’ve definitely put the Penguins in a precarious situation… Especially if they don’t make the playoffs this season. The Perron trade wasn’t lottery protected and that could prove to be costly. I still like the trade, but it might come back to bite them in the long run just because they didn’t protect the pick. The Perron trade was a necessity, especially with Pascal Dupuis going down. The Pens needed a top-six winger. The trades didn’t backfire, they were designed to make the current team deeper, but the season ending losses of Olli Maatta and Dupuis coupled with potential long term losses of Kris Letang and Christian Ehrhoff might just be too insurmountable to overcome.

It is interesting to see a team like the Penguins make a bunch of tweaks before the trade deadline and start declining in play… Then you see the Ottawa Senators do absolutely nothing at the deadline and surge toward the playoffs… It’s definitely ironic looking back at things and how they’ve panned out…

Conley: Winnik deal only looks bad because a guy who was supposed to be a third-liner has been pushed into the top-six (while the team asks 87/71, yet again, to weave straw into gold). Lovejoy trade should have been good based on what he did in Anaheim but good god has that been a mess. Perron deal should pan out fine, and Cole has been fine. Hard to judge, no one is playing where they are supposed to be because of injuries.

Altenbaugh: I had no issue with the Perron trade. Bringing in a 26-year-old scoring forward is a pretty good move. He’ll be able to help the Pens years down the road and there’s no guarantee that first round pick will amount to anything. The Winnik trade seemed good at the time. The Cole and Lovejoy trades made sense. I’ll put it this way, if you were to say, the Penguins will trade Phil Samuelsson, Bortuzzo, Despres, and a few picks for those four players, I’d say that was a pretty good deal. I thought he Lapierre deal was not particularly good. Not that Goc did much, but the move seemed unnecessary.

I was a little less enthusiastic with some of the offseason moves. Comeau and Downie are solid 4th liners who can maybe be pushed up to the third line. Ehrhoff was a nice signing at the time but was he really necessary? In retrospect, it would have been better to sign a cheaper depth option and use the rest of the money to sign some more depth up front. The Spaling signing was not great. None of the signings had a ton of term though, which I give Rutherford major props on. At the end of this season, the dead weight the Penguins are stuck with will not be because of Rutherford.



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