Greg Wyshinsky, senior NHL writer, ESPN, also Puck Soup, at Wyshinsky.
You're everywhere. I appreciate your time. We've only got two weeks left of this, so size up the Metro division for me with what? Six, seven, eight games left, depending on the team.
Yeah, it's getting down to it. You know, it's a really interesting time in the Metro because you have the Rangers rolling right now. You have them within striking distance of the Devils, within striking distance of Carolina, but I think that might be a little bit too far for them. So you've got the home ice advantage thing happening in that Devil Rangers 2-3 series, which is not really an advantage at all because there's going to be Ranger fans in Jersey, a lot of them.
And there's going to be Devil fans in New York, probably lots of them. So it's always interesting when those two face off in the playoffs for that very reason. Obviously, we've known the Leafs and Lightning are locked in to their series.
I think it's been that way since Christmas. Boston, obviously, is running away with things, challenging regular season records. And then way at the bottom, you've got the New York Islanders who have certainly done the job in making sure that they're going to qualify for the playoffs. They have an over 90% chance right now of qualifying for the postseason, but then you have the Pittsburgh Penguins desperately trying to hang on to that last wildcard spot with the Florida Panthers right behind them. And you have two teams there that have had their opportunities to try to plant their flag in that last spot and have been unable to do so.
They take one step forward, they stumble back two steps, and it's going to be interesting to see how that plays out before the end of the season. I'm not sure that Florida and Pittsburgh haven't done, haven't desperately tried to miss the playoffs of late. I mean, Florida got the win last night in Toronto. They were trailing late, tied it up and won it in extra time. But they had lost, I think, four in a row.
Both teams looked like they didn't want that spot. The Islanders are dangerous because of the goaltending. The rest of that team is good, but the goaltending can be elite. And I mean, Sorokin is just dynamite, and the backup is better than most teams' number ones. Because that's the way I've looked at Varlamov. I'm not surprised he's still there because you don't want to trade a goaltender if you don't have to. And clearly the Islanders didn't have to, but Varlamov could start for a ton of teams.
Well, he could, but the thing about that dynamic is that he is really valuable to Sorokin as a confidant, as a Russian, as somebody who over the years has developed a mentorship relationship with Sorokin. So the Islanders, you know, they had the opportunity, like you said, to move Varlamov along. He is an elite goalie when he's on, and he certainly could have helped any team in this league. But they felt that he served a more important purpose for them, which is to kind of keep their franchise goalie happy.
And so he sticks around, and it kind of makes sense when you put it in that perspective. Alright, so when you watch the Hurricanes, especially of late, what are you seeing? Well, I mean, at first I was seeing a team after the Seshnikov injury that was posting an impressive amount of offense, and still can.
I mean, you know, hitting five goals in a couple of games since the mid part of the month. But, you know, that loss of lightning was a tough one to watch. It was kind of the lightning exerting their will a little bit, I think, in that game. But, you know, for me, for Carolina, I mean, it all comes down to the same issue that we've talked about before with them in the postseason. But now the issue is sort of exacerbated, which is are they going to have enough goal scoring to win these closed series and win these game sevens when it counts? And the frustrating part about it was that, you know, part of that solution was going to be Max Pacioretty, that then the injury happened there twice. And then, you know, losing Seshnikov means that you have even less offense than you usually have in the playoffs, even though Andre last postseason wasn't all that stellar offensively.
So, you know, my concern is that taking those two guys out of the lineup and now you're looking at what's been, I think, a really, really strong season for them and a season with a lot of potential potentially getting squandered because of things that happen out of your control. Greg Wyshinsky is with us here, ESPN Senior NHL. I almost said NFL writer. Hey, sometimes hockey is called football on ice.
NHL writer at Wyshinsky. I look at Carolina and their main issue right now being goaltending. I know goal scoring is a problem, but I thought the game against Tampa looked like two teams that were kind of gassed and Tampa's two goals in the second period just can't go in. And I still think that Kachetkov might be the most important guy there. But to me, it's about can they keep goals out of their net as much as it is about putting goals in the other net?
Sure. But I think at the end of the day, first off, they have numerous options, obviously. Goal, which is a good place to be if you have your main guy slumping and you don't have any other solutions. That's a bad place to be as you enter the postseason. So I think the fact that they've got options is a good thing. Secondly, you know, historically, based on the roster, based on how they played this year, I'm not too concerned about Carolina not being able to clamp it down and play strong defensive hockey when we get to the postseason. So I'm with you. I mean, I think you'd like to see the goal setting trending in a different direction as we get closer to the postseason. But ultimately, if that's their concern, well, then they got bigger problems than they usually have in the playoffs because that's the part of the team you usually depend on.
All right. Let me ask you one more question before I let Greg Wyshinsky go. ESPN senior NHL writer, puck soup, you're everywhere. The matchup right now would be Carolina and the Islanders. How would you see that?
A grind. I mean, you know, like you said before, you see the way the Islanders played these games. They've been a little loosey-goosey offensively at times this season, and obviously, Horvat and the lineup has helped, you know, overcome some offensive losses they've had to injury.
But these are games that are going to be close to the margins. They depend on their goaltender a lot. So, you know, it's going to be one of those series that we've seen Carolina play in the past where the score is going to be low and the games are going to be tight. It's all going to come down to, you know, whether or not they can find that goal at a key time to win a series, extend a series or close out their opponent. I mean, it's the same old story when you play the Islanders. And the Islanders are an interesting team because, you know, I've talked to a few people around the league that see them the same way, which is not necessarily built for the regular season. And it does seem like they're going to get in. But definitely a team that is built for the postseason in the sense that they've got a collection of veteran players, guys that score, you know, those types of dirty goals that you need, like an Anders Lee in the playoffs.
So maybe, you know, while while not the most overwhelming team in the metro and in the east during the regular season, maybe a team that you're going to have to worry about come playoff time. Yeah, they they have guys who can score like around the hash marks. And that's really where you'd like to see Carolina operate a little bit easier, although they have like among the most rebound goals in the NHL.
Sometimes the statistics say one thing and my eyes say another thing, and I can't quite marry the two. Like the game against Toronto, which Kachetkov played so well in that made you think that, all right, he's the guy. The expected goals against Carolina in that game, based on natural statistic, was six and a half at five on five. And Toronto scored two. Yeah, yeah. Well, I mean, that's hockey. You know, the fact that the numbers tell you one thing, your eyes tell you everything.
And the truth is usually somewhere in between. But yeah, I mean, it's it's would you rather play Pittsburgh or would you rather play the Islanders the first round? I think the answer is obviously Pittsburgh, despite the presence of a Sidney Crosby and a Balkan. And the Islanders are a tough bunch and they seem to be kind of like we said before, rounding into form and kind of sealing the deal and the danger for Carolina and the danger for Boston, even all season long with that.
They were going to be comfortable coming into the playoffs and face a team that had to put the pedal down to even make the postseason. And that could be out. I think it's probably bad practice to wish to play against Sidney Crosby. But but I think you're right.
I think you're 100 percent right. The Islanders right now, especially in a playoff series, pose way more of a challenge for anybody, Carolina or otherwise, than than they would playing against the island or rather against the Penguins. Whatever I just tried to say. Greg Wyshinsky. No, you understand. I was going to say, I mean, you are you're wishing to play against Sidney Crosby's goal. Right. Absolutely.
And the fact that the Penguins don't look like they want to be in the playoffs. Greg Wyshinsky from ESPN. Thank you very much, sir. We'll see you soon. We'll see you there in the playoffs maybe. Absolutely. Anytime.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-31 21:09:53 / 2023-03-31 21:14:12 / 4