When the Penguins lost Ryan Malone, Gary Roberts, and Jarkko Ruutu to free agency last summer, many observers thought that the team had lost too much grit to be successful this season.
Personally, when those players left, I wasn't immediately inclined to buy into that belief...I took the "wait and see" approach.
Well, I have waited...
and now I have seen...
those folks were right.
Sunday's match-up with the Capitals was about as clear a signal as you can get that this team is lacking grit.
Alexander Ovechkin is a world class talent. He has speed, skill and a flare for the dramatic that makes hockey fans jump out of their seats.
He also has a penchant for taking aim at a player from half a sheet of ice away -- and then trying to run that player over. On Sunday, Sidney Crosby was in AO sights. Earlier this season, before the "All Star Game Peace Summit", it was Evgeni Malkin that Ovie was on a mission to destroy.
Either way, AO likes to hit players...and when his team is winning, he seems to enjoy it even more.
Personally, I have no probem with that...if that's the style he likes to play, then let him play it.
What I do have a problem with is the way the Penguins responded to it.
More specifically, their LACK OF A RESPONSE.
Do you think, with LAST YEAR'S LINE-UP, that the game would have taken a different turn?
I am of the opinion that either Ryan Malone or Jarko Ruutu would have shown AO that two can play that game (if they could catch him!!) and things would have become a lot more interesting. It may not have changed the final score of that game, but it would have influenced how future meetings between the two teams play out.
If Ovie wants to play that style of game, then -- simply stated -- other teams need to put the guy on his wallet more often.
The Pens should consider doing just that when they play the Caps again on March 8th.