Dallas Stars v Calgary Flames

Look: I know adding Jarome Iginla to your team is a good thing. He’s a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer with a great shot, great work ethic, and great attitude. Brenden Morrow should be a good addition too. And hey, Murray’s a fine depth defenseman.  It’s very, very difficult to find reasons why adding these guys would be a bad thing, but we need to consider all aspects of this trade instead of just slurping Ray Shero, who ohmigod is seriously amazing.

I mean, can you imagine being Peter Chiarelli and waking up to this news today?

But I digress.

The fact of the matter is, a team that’s won 13 straight games is tinkering with their lineup, and there’s a slight possibility that that’s not a good thing. Sliiiiight.

Here are some possible reasons why the Penguins may regret the trades they’ve made over the past few days. …They likely won’t, but just come for the ride, won’t you?

They got older

Over the past week, the Penguins have added 34-year-old Brendan Morrow, 33-year-old Douglas Murray, and 35-year-old Jarome Iginla.

As you’re well aware, playoffs are a grind. As the series wear on, you’ll often hear about teams holding “optional” skates, meaning “hey old guys, stay off the ice and let your bodies rest while the rest of the team shakes out their legs this morning.” The Penguins are likely trimming young energy from their roster to make room for these guys, so their morning skates are going look like a ghost town plus, I dunno, Dustin Jeffrey.

Older players are more prone to injuries, more prone to wearing down, and that could be a bad thing if the Penguins go deep in a number of series.

They got slower

This is somewhat related to the above point, but the reality of adding more proven talent is that you shuffle out the Not Ready Yets like Beau Bennett who fly around at mach six at all times. You sacrifice some team speed for reliability, getting rid of a race car for an SUV. Now, SUV’s are great, but as a hockey team, faster is generally better. It’s possible that defenses will find it easier to contain a Pittsburgh Penguins team with Iginla, Morrow and Murray than they would with younger, faster players swirling around while they try to deal with Crosby and Malkin. I think we can all agree their three acquisitions are not the most fleet of foot.

There’s not enough puck to go around

Currently, things are going swimingly for the Penguins. They have the longest current winning streak in pro sports thanks to the Miami Heat’s loss last night, and they have a couple of “good”-level players playing GREAT. Chris Kunitz is third in the NHL in scoring, one point behind Steven Stamkos for second in the league. CHRIS KUNITZ. 43 points in 34 games.

Pascal Dupuis has 15 goals already. That’s good for 11th in the league, tied with Sidney Crosby. Brandon Sutter has nine goals. James Neal has the fifth most in the league with 17. Evgeni Malkin exists. Now you’re going to stir in Brendan Morrow (who scored 30 two years ago, not that he’s still that guy) and Jarome Iginla, who has 11-straight seasons of 30+ goals on his resume.

Not everyone will be happy, because there’s just not enough puck to go around. Sorry Kunitz and Dupuis. Somebody is bound to be underutilized, somebody is bound to be unhappy, and it’s possible some frustration could creep in for Pens forwards.

Too many (leaders) and not enough (people doing the grunt work)

Sidney Crosby is the captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Interestingly, Brendan Morrow was the captain of the Dallas Stars. Interestingly, Jarome Iginla was the captain of the Calgary Flames. Then they have a coach, and assistant coaches, and on and on and on. While everyone is saying the right things right now, a great Mike Tyson quote comes to mind: “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.”

If the Pens lose a couple games in the playoffs, and they find themselves in a hole, how does that play out for this team? What if Crosby isn’t producing (maybe he’s being double-Tikkanen’d, whatever), and the other leaders start to nose in on “his” team. What if they have philosophical differences?

By all accounts, all of these men are good, reasonable dudes, but they’ve also been used to being The Guy for awhile now. We’ll see how things gel when they’re asked to be just A Guy.

Too much pressure

This reminds me of two things: 1) when the Miami Heat first came together and everyone (Okay, LeBron, but you get the point) was like “Oh snap, give them not five, not six, not seven titles…” and then they lost the first year. They immediately had a rifle scope on their backs, and all teams did was game plan ways to beat them, which Dallas eventually did. The Heat were more than fine once they settled in, but the Penguins don’t have the time for that – Iginla and Morrow and Murray are currently all “rentals” – so it’s now or never for them. There’s no adjustment period allowed.

And 2), When the Los Angeles Lakers were built this year – they’re stacked, and they have older, talented leadership (Kobe & Nash) – things just didn’t gel. Nash got hurt as older players tend to do, and they mostly got rolled by their opposition, with Kobe Bryant seemingly having to do more to drag them to wins.

All eyes are on them, everyone’s gunning for them, and nobody wants to be the guy to start slumping in that scenario. But with everyone wanting the puck and wanting to contribute, it’s possible they could run into trouble. The pressure’s on.

***

That’s just a whole bunch of devil’s advocism (not a word) right there. The most likely scenario is that the Penguins took a good team, added talent and got better. But in sports, nothing is guaranteed, and how a team words together matters. Chemistry is a real thing, and the Penguins have a very short stretch until playoffs to find how they best work together.

I’m guessing they’ll be fine. But for the reasons above, it’s always possible that they won’t be.

Comments (47)

  1. $4M in cap space still. Any fast guys around the league they can get for that?

    First PP unit: Crosby, Malkin, Iginla, Morrow, Letang.
    Second PP unit: Neal, Dupuis, Kunitz, Sutter, Despres.

    They still have to earn it, but that team has a higher earning potential than any other team right now.

  2. As a Ranger fan, I hope all this is TRUE!

    • Good lord, why? Do you really think the Rangers would be able to sneak into 8th and upset the Pens?

      • can you say Nash, Richards and Gaborik? All immensely talented scorers and leading one of the worst offenses in the NHL. and they’re not rentals. And it could be they start to gel at around playoff time.

        • This year’s Rangers aren’t last year’s Kings. They’re not going to flip a switch.

          Heck, you could very justifiably argue that they’ve been underperforming since last year’s playoffs started. Nash has saved their bacon this season, but that’s combined with Gaborik regressing, so realistically the team hasn’t improved much.

          I do think they could pull an upset, but it would involve copious amounts of shot blocking and Heinrik being outstanding. Their skill players aren’t going to make much of a difference.

  3. I know the entire point of this article is to play Devil’s Advocate (and act as some serious click bait) but some of these points are grasping at straws

    An aside, I think keeping Iginla away from Boston helps Pittsburgh just as much as actually acquiring him does.

    • ^^^^^^^^^^^^
      This. Pens-Bruins ECF looks much sunnier for the team with Iggy.

      • I think the better argument was that it didn’t address what few weaknesses they had. Sure, they got better offensively, but I’m not sure that Murray plugs their D and Goaltending holes (and yes, I’m aware that they are playing well right now – but it’s hard to forget the playoffs last year).

        • Murray doesn’t plug holes. He creates them. He’s really bad. Look over at Fear The Fin – they do regular advanced stats on the sharks, and Murray has been an utter disaster this year.

          • The point of Murray is to have a defenceman that can move bodies from the front of the net (Engelland is the only one that can do that currently, and the playoffs can be very long, and he might be injured). If they simplify his game, he should be fine. He can still skate right?

            Also, it’s helfpful to have another big presence on the ice for when the other team (Bruins) inevitably start taking liberties with Crosby, Kunitz, Depres, Dupuis etc.

          • He’s never been the guy to move people from in front. Big hits on the boards? Yes. But he’s just not very good. To immobile.

          • “He’s never been the guy to move people from in front.”

            I’m surprised to hear that. I’ll be watching tonight to see how he’s utilized.

    • one of the worst articles youve ever posted and im an avid reader of your blogs. you compare them to the heat and the lakers in a sport where for those teams 3 top players play 80% of the game and ball possession is fought after more than puck possession, i.e. most dangerous guy is the guy without the puck, back post, slot, etc. too many leaders? well i dont know how any olympic team prevails when half of the players are captains. too slow and too old, yes the “new” nhl is a young mans game but the playoffs are an old man game where whistles are put away and teams play to out grind and out last others. the pressure was there before they made the trades and will be there for the penguins as long as sid and geno are present. added, of course, everyone wants to see a “bourque” moment but isnt that why they signed these two guys to relieve the pressure by adding experience guys whove been there. im no pens fan but im a hockey and sports fan and i think you really just wrote this one to piss guys like me off so in hindsight you did your job.

  4. You make some good points but I disagree with the “too many leaders.” Its a valid concern but Iginla and Morrow are the type of players who will accept whatever role they’re given. On the Olympic team they accepted a different role than what they had, faced adversity and managed to succeed. Granted, its a little different and there were alot more leaders around, but I don’t see any of these guys really having problems.

    Tinkering with their successful lineup and players not geling (word?) in time are valid concerns that I’d have if I were a Penguins fan though.

    • This.

      Morrow and Iginla are Captains but its arguable that they are vocal leaders. throughout his time in CGY, everyone though Iggy was more of a “do as i do, not do as i say guy” he will take his role and do it well.

      Same with Morrow. Remember the Olympics? one of the best, most underrated, additions to the team. he took the checking role and went with it. played great.

      playoffs is a grind but that could also workout for them. these guys can grind. they can wear out the other team.

      but i do agree that some speed is lost and i wonder what will happen to the high-flying pens.

  5. I believe the word you were looking for is advocacy?

    • Yes, devil’s advocacy would be correct.

      I’ll just add that nothing in sports is a given. If it was, they wouldn’t bother to play the games. In 2011, Vancouver fans were saying the Canucks should deliberately lose one game in Boston so they could celebrate winning the Cup on home ice. How’d that turn out?

      • Yes, but we saw the intelligence of Canucks fans on display multiple times during that series, most prominently on the streets after Game 7.

  6. Nobody that really follows the sharks is sad to see Murray go. He was a pilon out on the ice – significantly slower than last years slowness. He’s done. The Sharks have won 2 straight against the ducks since he was dealt and one big reason is no brutal d zone turnovers by Murray the last two games.
    He’s bad enough that I doubt he sees playoff ice time.

  7. Well said. I thought the same pretty much… “How could they possible have room for all of that talent?” (not to mention in their future plans if Iginla really doesn’t want to be a rental). Also good point about too much pressure. The Rangers are also a good example of a team being put under too much pressure given the hype surrounding them at the start of this year.

  8. Yes they got older and slower but what did they give up for iggy and morrow? Nothing! They still have Kunitz, sutter etc

  9. What about having to learn Bylsma’s super-complex super-fast system on the go? Zbynek Michalek was in Pittsburgh for two years and couldn’t figure it out. Is it realistic to expect these old dogs to learn new tricks in such short a time?

    • Blysma’s smart enough to just put Iggy in a room with Crosby and Kunitz and let them figure it out themselves, though.

      (The meeting will basically be: Iggy, you get the puck in the corner, pass it to me. Worked once, right?)

  10. The first two points are barely worth noting, since the Pens didn’t give up a single roster player for these three. Technically they’re older and slower and more prone to injury, but if one of these guys goes out, they’ll be replaced by a younger, faster player. The beauty of these deals, especially since they’re rentals and aren’t really expected to resign, is that they’ll be used as necessary and can be benched if they’re not working out. (not that I would expect that of Iginla, I’m mostly thinking Murray)

  11. Bourne, In case you’ve never watched Iginla and Morrow, they are the guys that do the grunt work. Useless article column.

  12. getting older is not a big deal this year, even playing four 7 game series the most games a team can play only equates to 76 total games, less than a normal regular season, plus injuries can happen to anyone.

  13. Perhaps adding a couple talented two-way forwards had something to do with last years goals-against in the playoffs.

    I’m pretty sure Crosby’s longest streak without a point is 5 games. No worries about him not producing.

  14. Good points Justin, especially, with regards to chemistry.

    However, I think you underestimate Sid’s leadership. There’s no way Iginla or Morrow are going to question how the team runs, look at what they both came from! Those guys are going to do their thing, which is whatever Sid and Bylsma tell them to do, nothing more and nothing less.

    • The chemistry seemed to be pretty good when Crosby, Morrow & Iginla played together on the 2010 Olympic team together.

      • You’re right, but I meant the chemistry of the other players who have been contributing to the team’s 13 game winning streak and will see reduced roles.

        Some of those reduced roles will be deserved though, (i.e. Tanner Glass 0 pts in 30+ games)

        • Leaders not arguing about who does what means the rest of the guys will fall in line too.

          • You’re right, but, for example, Tyler Kennedy might be a d!ck about the fact that he will see significantly reduced icetime, and b!tch to his buddies on the team. Who knows, he’d probably have a point too.

    • Always hilarious to hear people speculate on how players interact with each other in the room, even though you (and I) have no idea of their relationships. No accounting for any of the nuances of a group of people working together. Its not NHL 13, where people have a single emotional trait and you slot them together.

      “oh he’s a leader, (and Pierre McGuire told me so) so that means he will get along with other leaders…”

      Not saying that won’t happen, but all we really know is how they perform on the ice.

      • Sid’s leadership has been well documented (2010 Olympics, and 2006-2013 Penguins). I can send you links if you need..

        I didn’t say anything that isn’t obvious. Can you see Iginla saying, “hold on Sid, we did THIS in Calgary and it worked out f%^&ing great!”

  15. Soooo when does Shero trade for a goalie?

  16. How does this all fix the fact that they gave up 30 goals in 6 playoff games last year?

    • Well, they’re giving up fewer shots and goals this year, so it’s reasonable to assume that their D will be better no matter what happens. And I don’t think Blysma would have any concerns about putting Vokoun in net if MAF screws up, something that they didn’t have last year with Brent Johnson.

      • Zactly. They have a plan B now.

        A goalie who is bad at stopping pucks but good at knocking out other goalies isn’t very helpful in the playoffs. Looking at you Johnson.

  17. I’m a Pens fan and I completely agree. It’s not as if I’m not excited to have added 3 excellent pieces to the team, but the pressure and the sense of inevitability have me a bit nervous. A few days ago, friends were asking me if I’d want Iginla on the Pens, and my initial gut feeling was not really. They’re doing so well, so why mess with it? Hopefully I’m wrong and this all works out great, but I won’t be surprised if this turns out to be too much all at once.

  18. I agree Justin. Look at Chicago, they put together an epic winning streak and they are going to hang on to what they have and reward the guys who played good all year.

    Pitts on the other hand has now brought in a bunch of older guys who “Want to win a cup”, and are going to bump all of the role players who have done a good job this year, likely disgruntling them.

    LA Kings are the only really super stacked team ive seen make it far in playoffs, and they play a grinding style.

    • The Penguins are rewarding the guys who played good all year by giving them better players to play with. The “role players” who get bumped only have themselves to blame.

  19. I`ll just throw in that in a normal 82 game year, adding three guys over the age of 33 might be too much. But this year is a special one and the playoffs finals would be right around where game 60-70 might be. Maybe you should look at the point totals of Iginla and Morrow over the last three years through those games to get a better look at how they would perform down the stretch.

  20. I agree. When you’re clicking on all cylinders, don’t f**k with the formula. It’s hard enough to balance the egos and the playing time of two superstars, so I’m not sure adding a third will help things. Morrow and Murray were “depth” additions, but I really think (continuing with the Devil’s Advocacy) that getting Iginla was more about c**k-blocking Boston. Both Montreal and Pittsburgh believe that the road to a Prince of Whales Trophy goes through Boston, so I figure this was more about the “arms race.” If you think that’s ridiculous and Boston ends up getting Hemsky and Whitney, Clowe and Whitney, or all three of them, you’ve gotta buy me a beer.

  21. i’m suprised i didnt see.. but they scored a goal together in the olympics from all you cry babies.. good stuff guys

  22. Somehow the Penguns will win the draft lottery and the Stanley Cup this year, damn it damn it damn it Bettman…

  23. Wow, how prescient was this article.

  24. This is a great guide with well-scripted, engaging material that is certainly entire of original and sensible views. Much of your informative articles is in line with my way of pondering.Alice from franchise

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