Since becoming the general manager in 2006, Ray Shero has had a habit of bringing in gritty veterans at the trade deadline to add toughness and leadership to his squad.
In 2007, he added Gary Roberts and George Laraque, who helped the Pens reach the postseason for the first time 2001.
In 2008, he added Hal Gill, and in 2009, he added Bill Guerin. The results were back-to-back trips to the Stanley Cup Final and a third championship banner.
After failing to make it past the first round in two of the previous three seasons, Shero added Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow, Douglas Murray and Jussi Jokinen in 2013, and the Pens advanced to the Eastern Conference Final.
This season—perhaps believing that the core of his team, who are now in their late 20s, was battle-tested enough—Shero opted for speed and versatility in Lee Stempniak and Marcel Goc instead of bigger and grittier players like Thomas Vanek, Dustin Penner and Steve Ott.
Unfortunately, the Pens' lack of grit has been front and center, as they have been unable to impose their physical will on their opponents. They have turned the puck over at an alarming rate as a result of the Blue Jackets' relentless forecheck.
If the Pens bow out in the first round, expect Shero to revamp his roster to ensure that they are never again lacking for grit and leadership in the postseason.