Complimenting The Penguins
Let’s step back for some perspective before we dive into Ray Shero’s business over the course of the last two days.
The Pittsburgh Penguins are currently the number one team in the Eastern Conference. They have a fourteen point lead over the second place team in the Atlantic Division in the New Jersey Devils.
They are in the midst of a twelve game win streak that has featured victories against some of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
They have earned wins in games that have featured everything from gunfight at the O.K. Corral style shootouts, stifling defense against their opponents, dogged comebacks in the third periods, and sixty minutes of dominance.
They’ve also accomplished all of the above sans their reigning Art Ross winning center Evgeni Malkin and current potential Norris Trophy candidate in Kris Letang.
Both of those players are stepping back on the ice for a Pittsburgh Penguins team that is firing on all cylinders and boasts a goal tending duo that has been seeing beach balls the last few games.
Stop for a second, take all that into consideration.
Now insert the presence of Brenden Morrow and Douglas Murray.
That’s the perspective needed when evaluating these trades. Unlike the Hossa acquisition of 2008, Ray Shero is doing what he did when this team made its last successful Stanley Cup run, he’s fine tuning his machine.
For Morrow, his move is one that makes an immense amount of sense. The Penguins now have a “win one for the gipper!” presence in the locker-room. They have a veteran leader who brings a work ethic to a team that didn’t seem like they had one against the Flyers during their 2012 first round exit.
James Neal said it best about Brendan Morrow, “He’ll do anything to win.”
The make up of the Pittsburgh Penguins right now is that of a team that plays hockey the same nasty, physical way for every second of the game. They’re relentless on the puck, and it’s been extremely difficult to keep them at bay for an entire length of a game.
Brendan Morrow fits that mold, and although he doesn’t define what the Penguins offense is about, he’s certainly going to enhance it.
The same can be said for Douglas Murray.
The last time the Penguins rescued a struggling western conference defenseman away from a bad situation, they ended up seeing Matt Niskanen blossom into what he was promised to become years ago.
Not that coming to Pittsburgh is going to be a miracle resurgence for Douglas Murray’s career, but his role with this team is going to be defined in a major way.
Simply put, Douglas Murray is going to break up the opposing teams picnic in front of the Penguins net and bolster a rebounding penalty-kill unit that could use some serious jam around the crease.
The Penguins defense has allowed a league leading 8 goals in its last 9 games, they’ve been operating as a unit more and more with each passing game. The addition of Douglas Murray doesn’t make or break what the Penguins are doing defensively, it simply provides a solution for one of their key weaknesses.
Ray Shero is tinkering here, and he’s doing it in the right places.
The exclusion of Morrow and Murray from this roster doesn’t kill the Penguins chances of winning the Stanley Cup, but it does a take a team that is bought completely in to the system in front of it and adds even more sandpaper to the roster.
And why doubt Shero? The last time he made these types of moves heading into the NHL trade deadline, the Pittsburgh Penguins took a few laps with the Stanley Cup when the final whistle sounded.