Pittsburgh Penguins: In Search of Scrappy!
How is it possible that the league's top scorers play on the same team and yet we still can't win a game?
Maybe it's because they play on the same line? Nope.
Maybe it's because a great one-two punch is needed with championship teams. Jordan/Pippen, Lemieux/Jagr, Kareem/Johnson, Sonny/Cher, and let's not forget Gretzky and...oh, I don't know...pick one.
Many Pens fans are asking themselves the same question. First we set our sights on Marc-Andre Fleury, telling ourselves, "It will all be better when Fleury gets get back."
We forgot last year when Conklin and the rest of the bench, including the AHL net minders, put us in contention for the cup.
Then it's, "Just wait until Ryan Whitney gets back." Now all we hear is, "Sergei Gonchar, he'll make the difference when he returns."
Oh how quickly we forget last year. Sid the kid out, Malkin takes over. Hossa steps up in the playoffs and then jets for the short train to Stanleyville. The rest of the birds headed south for the winter.
There are plenty of teams in the league with talent that should be winning, just look at Tampa Bay.
Sure, we lost half the team, and chemistry will always be a factor. But seriously, I think Pens fans are overlooking the obvious.
Where is the scrappy play? Or should I say, where is the scrappy player?
Tyler Kennedy. Man, do we miss this guy.
Sure, he moved around from the fourth line to the first line, but you know what? He never changed the consistency of his game. He back checked, he forechecked...he FINISHED checks, he pestered the offense deep in their own zone, making them send players back to help out just to bring the puck out.
Most importantly and most missed, is throwing the puck at the net. It is almost like no one wants to get their hands dirty. But that is where the fun is.
Think back to the teams that won Cups. If you had the puck, they were on you like "White on rice in a glass of milk on a paper plate in a snow storm," to quote Major Payne.
Kennedy's injury was announced on Dec. 5. The Pens have lost 10 of their last 14 games.
Coincidence? I don't know. I'm just a fan who remembers the really good years and the really bad years.
As I think back on the wins, I remember the last five minutes of Game Five of last year's Stanley Cup Finals. Sure we love the sexy goals and the flashy saves, but in reality what won Game Five last year? Scrappy play!
If we could find that work ethic (you know, the one that Tyler Kennedy brings to every game) the Penguins could again find their winning ways. Until then it won't matter who comes back from injury and how many scoring titles they win. It's all trade bait going into March.
We want scrappy back!
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