The Colorado Avalanche are in town to play the Penguins. It is Pittsburgh’s first game action since January 28th. They are currently in a dog fight for a playoff spot. There are multiple teams chasing down the wild card
Something the Penguins have going for them are the games in hand they have on teams. They have four games in hand on the Capitals, Islanders, and Panthers. They have a single game on the Sabres. The thing with games in hand is they aren’t all that useful unless you go out and win games. Tonight, will be a tough one against Colorado. The following games ease up a little bit with Anaheim, Los Angeles, and San Jose. Take six out of eight points and those games in hand become effective. A win tonight would put the team in a great position to do just that.
There is no shortage of great players (MacKinnon, Makar, Rantanen, Landeskog) on the Avalanche. They are the defending champs and still have a great core group of players. Instead of the star players I’m going to focus on one of their depth players. The Penguins know him well. The player is Evan Rodrigues
When we talk about the bottom six struggles this year it is hard to ignore the fact the team chose to let Evan Rodrigues walk and then watch him sign for only 2M for a single season. It is really solid value. Here’s how he looks
While the finishing results can be frustrating Rodrigues is far from a liability on the ice. He is very competent offensively and defensively and provide value even when the goals aren’t going in. He also has the ability to play the center position. Something which would be quite valuable considering how things have gone so far this year for the Penguins there. I would rather live in the timeline of Evan Rodrigues third line center than the Jeff Carter one we’ve been subjected to.
The choice wasn’t Jeff Carter or Evan Rodrigues. Carter was always going to be on the Penguins roster this year. They were stuck with his 3.125M cap hit. The 3.2M cap hit they weren’t stuck with was Kasperi Kapanen’s, who is the complete opposite of Evan Rodrigues.
I’m not a big fan of players who are a net negative when they aren’t scoring goals. The best players in the league aren’t very consistent with goal scoring. Kapanen has consistently score goals to provide proper value. As you already know Kapanen is the epitome of not being consistent. I feel strongly the Penguins would be in a better place with Rodrigues and not Kapanen on the roster. It was just another one of the mistakes Hextall has made with his allocation of cap space in the depth areas of the roster.
These kinds of decisions add up and have led to the underwhelming bottom six the Penguins have this year.
As for the lineup tonight it looks like Kasperi Kapanen and Josh Archibald will be making their return to the lineup tonight
Casey DeSmith will be getting the start with Tristan Jarry’s return looming.
Enjoy the Nate MacKinnon and Cale Makar show this evening.
Thanks for reading!