When the Penguins go to Toronto later this month for their hub, we found out where they will stay, and more importantly who will be in the building, via TSN.
If this was like the MTV Challenge or some reality show pitting Hotel X vs. the Royal York, who would win? Hey it’s Friday and we’re stuck in the summer, so why not? For my purposes, I’m going to try and be true to using players in their natural positions. If they play it in the NHL, they have to play it here.
—Marchand is a little weasel, but he also just scored 87 points in 70 games this season. That line with Crosby and Bergeron is Hockey Canada royalty, and there’s no reason to break it up. I made a big break from my rule of “use their NHL position in this format” for Bergeron, a center, but feel that’s justified since Crosby and Bergeron are a tried and true combination at the international level.
Then we can form a powerhouse all-Russian line to eat all the offensive zone draws and score a ton with pure skill level. More than anyone, Russians traditionally in hockey have thrived on cohesion and similar styles to use their impressive abilities to play off one another. It feels like a pretty good assumption to imagine this would happen here with these three former NHL scoring champions.
The third line are the defensive stoppers. Couturier had a Selke-esque season. Cirelli scored 44 points this year and is one of the best two-way forwards in the game, if you pay attention to defensive advanced statistics. Konecny is the added wheel to bring some more speed and tenacity to make a matchup line.
The fourth line, we load back up with pure offensive ability. Pasta shared the Rocket Richard trophy with Ovechkin. Guentzel and Point are heady, smooth-skating players that should be able to distribute as well as score.
Mikhail Sergachev / Charlie MacAvoy
—Carlson put up Norris-worthy numbers on offense this year. He can lean on a Norris winner in Hedman to make a very formidable and well-rounded top pair that arguably has two of the top five defensemen in the whole league right now. Tough to beat that!
Provorov bounced back nicely this season after a bit of a sophomore slump last year, and for his part has a nice skill-set to mesh with Letang who covers more ice and would be able to provide the fireworks.
Sergachev is, somewhat quietly IMO, blossoming into a big weapon on a stacked team. MacAvoy doesn’t pop a lot of boxcar numbers but he too is subtlety one of the most effective all-around defenders in the conference. This pair is young, can move, defend, move the puck, put some shots on net, pretty much everything you’d need, even if they don’t have the pedigree of a Letang or Carlson or Hedman.
—Rask’s .929 save% was second best in the league this year (min. 25 games). I think he’s one of the most under-appreciated best goalies over the past 10 or so years in the league. Vasilevskiy won the Vezina in 2018-19, and his pure stats took a small dip, but he’s still probably the most athletic and one of the strongest goalies in the whole league. I’ll let the coach figure out which one to start, would be happy with either of ‘em.
—Sullivan has 2 Stanley Cups. The rest of the coaches have 0, combined. Bing, bang, boom. Not over-thinking this one, Sullivan is a strong communicator and the most established and successful head coach in the group.
Teuvo Teravainen – Sebastien Aho – Oliver Bjorkstand
Extras: John Tavares, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Mat Barzal
—Panarin is a dark-horse MVP candidate, he’s a very dangerous player. We’ll load him up with a puck distributor in Marner and a big sturdy center with a two-way reputation with Barkov (even if he is really more offense-first results despite the reputation and narrative that precedes him) Still a heck of a player, no matter how you slice it).
Huberdeau is also a quiet star with 55 assists and 78 points in 69 games this season in FLA. A perfect playmaker for the gifted shooters in Matthews and Svechnikov, but mainly Matthews as the key trigger-man of this group.
The third line gives us some youth and offensive creativity with the ever-ascending Aho (38G+66 points this season) to go along with his teammate in Teravainen and an excellent youngster in Bjorkstand.
Zibanejad was one of the hottest players before the shutdown but is a victim of some center depth here to be pushed down to a fourth line. He still gets to play with a pair of Canadiens who can play the puck and drive the net pretty well in their own right.
—Real ones know that Slavin is one of the best all-around defenders in the whole league and Hamilton always gets great results. No-brainer top pairing here.
Fox put up 42 points in his rookie season and Werenski has morphed into one of the top minute-eaters around. This should be a very steady pairing that can move the puck and has pretty good offensive instincts to go along with making smart plays.
Rielly and Jones are both kinda over-rated in their most favorable impressions, but both still are quality first-pair type of players on normal NHL teams. That’s important and tips the scales enough to get them on this team.
—Normally, I’d say Sergei Bobrovsky is unquestionably the most talented goalie in the group. But his first season in Florida was so bad, I have steered away from him. Varlamov posted a solid .915 save% in the friendly confines of the NYI defensive system, but has a career worth of evidence showing he’s a solid, if unspectacular, goalie. Price has the history of being a great goalie, and while he wasn’t quite on top of his game this year, he still was better than Bob and I’d bet he has more of a chance of getting it back in the very near future.
—All his teams seem to over-perform. Goalies and defense always, year in and year out, play better with Trotz. There’s enough evidence in enough different franchises to show this is not a coincidence. He’s one of the most veteran coaches around and may be able to get more out of this club.
So, who is your choice? Not even trying to be a homer and even though Team X has fewer available players, they still (also not coincidentally) have the five best teams from the regular season (BOS, TB, WSH, PHI, PIT). There’s a LOT of star power in all of those teams, too. Any time you can have two 40 goal scorers on a “4th” line like Team X (Guentzel and Pasta), that’s seriously impressive.
Anyone you would put on your dream hotel team that will never happen?
Who wins this monstrosity?
Team X (Pens, Boston, TB, Wash, Philly)
Hotel York (the rest of the East playoff teams)
68 votes total