HotTake Tuesday: Are The Pens Defensemen Too Soft?


In this week’s edition of HotTake Tuesday, Nick and James discuss wether or not the Penguins defense is too cost, if grit is an overrated attribute for defensemen, and the NHL’s new Era of Clutch and Grab.

Is the Penguins Defense Too Soft?

Richter: It’s a “soft” defense, but it’s not too soft and that’s ok. The game isn’t played with hard-nosed defensemen anymore. Sure, there are some guys in the NHL that are big and physical on the blue line, but it’s a bit few and far between. The physicality game has been left for the bottom-six forwards (and mostly the 4th line), and rightfully so. Skilled, swift-moving defensemen are all the rage and physical defenseman have become a liability. It’s all about puck possession, and it’s hard to hit people when you’re the guy with the puck. Keeping a guy like Robert Bortuzzo, who was prone to take a bad penalty every so often, makes limited sense in the playoffs. Letang and Martin will likely already see an increase in their minutes, and if you have a defensemen taking penalties, then you’re skating those guys that many more minutes. The Pens defense isn’t too soft, they’re flat out better without a gritty defenseman.

Conley: I think we might be past the days of typical roster tropes. You know, fourth-line grinders, stay-at-home defensemen, designated fighters. Any roster spot that doesn’t directly and specifically serve the system put in place is a wasted paycheck. Mike Johnston predicates everything on moving the puck quickly and carefully. Better to have players who can play that system to its absolute apex than to populate the roster with a little bit of everything to try to match up to every different opponent.



Is Clutch and Grab Era Making A Return?

Conley: Return done been made. If lockouts were about anything but money I’d be in favor of shutting things down again in order to open the game up. But they aren’t, and it won’t, so whatever. Hope everyone enjoys shining their lunch pails.

Richter: Exactly. Great points by James. It’s crazy to see where the game has headed after the first lockout and how penalties per game continue to take a dive and go uncalled. It’s no wonder why NBC’s NHL ratings are down. It doesn’t have as much to do with the analysts as you might think. The game for the casual fan has become uninteresting. It’s just a bunch of people groping one another with a bunch of gear on. When superstars are forced to become just stars, the game loses its mojo and becomes less dynamic. Hockey is the best sport in the world, but the worst league.


Is Grit From Defensemen Overrated?

Richter: Yes. It’s a nice element to have in your game, but it cannot be the main component anymore. You need to be able to clear your crease, but you just need to be strong and willing. People think back to the “Big Hit” and for the most part, it’s just not a part of the game anymore. Even a good, clean hit gets put under the microscope anymore. Guys who play a game like Brooks Orpik did throughout his career are falling by the waist side.

Conley: No, but only if it doesn’t come at the cost of puckhandling and such. The next time you hear some free agent described as a “stay-at-home defenseman,” run.


Erik Karlsson reacts to his own bobblehead:


Richter: “Hey, it’s Joe Dirt Bobblehead Night?!?”

Conley: “They traded for Clarkson!”


Richter: “WE CAN GO TO BED NOW!!!!”

Conley: “Respect my authoritah!”

Thanks for reading HotTake Tuesday! Follow James and Nick on twitter. 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.