The Stanley Cup Final is underway and features two very yellow teams in the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Nashville Predators. Like any classic Final matchup, we have a clear favourite and a clear underpredator. The Penguins have a chance to become the first team post lockout to repeat as Cup champions, and PK Subban has a chance to truly stick it to the Canadiens by winning his first cup after being traded to Nashville. The most compelling narrative of this series is definitely the Subban saga, and let’s be honest here, many hockey fans are rooting for him to win.
This matchup has already been analyzed to death by many notable hockey minds, with everything from forwards and defense, powerplay and penalty kill, and even the relevance of shot volume being talked about at length. But we wanted to attack this matchup in a slightly different manner, answering the real question that has been clawing at the minds of hockey fans for quite some time: who would win in a fight? A predator or a penguin?
The Predators’ logo features a sabre tooth tiger but we’ll refer to it as a predator for simplicity. For the Penguins’, we’re looking just at the emperor penguin because it’s clearly the best species. Let’s dive in:
Predators are known for their extremely long front canines which can be up to 12 inches long. Though frightening to look at, just like Pekka Rinne’s save percentage, these teeth were actually quite brittle and were often entirely sheared off in close combat encounters, displaying the same breakability as modern hockey sticks. It’s unlikely that predators could penetrate the penguins thick protective layer of blubber, and attacking a group of penguins could leave them with fatal injuries. Predators are known to have hunted mammoths back in the Pleistocene epoch, so working as a unified team may give the predators an edge over the penguins, though no evidence of pack tendencies is known. Penguins use their strong beak to hunt on inferior species like krill, squid, and Capitals, often diving to depths of up to 500 metres for their dinner.
Advantage: Penguins. The predator’s offense is overhyped for its effectiveness, and the penguins have a track record of hunting down smaller animals with ease. With the penguins working as a team, they should be able to take on the predators in close combat.
Penguins protect their young by sitting on them until they hatch. Ever since Matt Murray hatched, the penguins have been left with no choice but to leave their young goaltender to fend for himself, with many key defensive pieces on the IR. Though the penguins have a thick layer of blubber protecting them, a pack of predators could overcome this defense and the young penguins would be exposed. To defend against attacks, predators use their long claws to swat away offensive blows with grace and finesse.
Advantage: Predators. Their paws provide a much better defense than the penguins’ blubber and a group of predators could more easily defend themselves against a group of attacking penguins.
Ask Jim Benning which animal he’d like to see on his hockey team and he’ll certainly pick the predator. Weighing from 200 to 400 lbs, they easily out-grit penguins, which weigh in at 50 to 100 lbs. However, we know size isn’t everything in hockey. In fact, size is probably irrelevant.
Advantage: Predators. 23 predators versus 23 penguins might sway the weight battle by the slightest of margins (a couple of tons) in favour of the predators.
Home Ice Advantage
The predators and penguins live in very different natural environments. The predators hail from the forests and grasslands of North and South America where temperatures are moderate. Penguins on the other hand, reside on the chilly continent of Antarctica where temperatures can drop to as low as -60˚C. As this series has shown us so far, home ice/grass advantage would be a major deciding factor in a fight between these two great animals. Each would struggle to perform in the other habitat. The predators have an advantage on land where their top speed is likely around 45 km/h compared to the penguins’ at 8 km/h. In water, however, the penguin is the clear winner with their ability to hold their breath for up to 20 minutes and reach a top speed of 15 km/h.
Advantage: Penguins. With 4 of the 7 possible games in the penguins’ habitat, their chance to win this series is definitely higher than the predators who are unable to swim.
While the penguins may have a slight edge in offense due to their strong group mentality, the predators outshine in more areas. Though home ice advantage is a big factor, the rapid rate of global warming should lead to some panicked penguins for Game 7. If the predators can steal an away game, they should be in good shape to close out this series.
Let’s see how it plays out tonight.