Back in the day, by which I mean the 1990s, the Pittsburgh Penguins could sometimes be knocked off of their game. Sure, there were enforcers on the team back in those days (I still wish Dennis Bonvie would have seen more time with the big club back then...even if that was 1999), but there wasn't really a big feeling eminating from the team that they had toughness from Top Line to Bottom Line; Top Pair to Third Pair. This new era of Penguins hockey we are lucky enough to see unfold in front of us never feels that way to me. Everywhere on this Penguins team there are people ready to answer the bell, ready to stick up for their teammate, ready to drop the gloves. It fills my knuckle sandwich loving heart with pride...
We knew what we were going to get in this game from what we dealt with in the pre-season, the Toronto Maple Goons were going to out tough the Penguins and try to draw them into a rough goontastic game. Well, mission accomplished Leafs, it is just too bad that the Penguins still blew you out of your own building and matched you goon for goon, rough play for rough play.
It basically began as we all could have expected. Even people that have never watched a hockey game or seen ice before (so, you know, fans of the Florida Panthers), knew that Eric Godard and Colton Orr were going to drop the gloves, and drop them they did, much to my enjoyment:
I like that Godard fights Orr more so than him fighting any other heavyweight enforcer in the league. Orr is better than most heavyweights beyond fighting because he can throw his weight around as well as his fists. If there's one knock against my boy Eric Godard, it's that he can't deliver a crushing check after a dump in. Orr, as talked about by by our FSNP boys, sometimes is matched up against Crosby or Malkin and is able to get under their skin at some points. Tonight it wasn't the case, Godard got involved early, and because the score wasn't close, Godard and Rupp were thankfully able to get shifts throughout the game to continue doing their jobs.
This was only the beginning though, it would seem. While the Penguins dominated from the drop of the puck, the Maple Leafs seemed to believe that they would be able to stop the domination by attacking them with cheap hits, fights, and taking penalties. Sergei Gonchar, how did that go for them early on?
Looking like that's gonna end painfully for someone, Gonchar. This is not how you try to out muscle a team, blatant cheap shots are only going to get you to the penalty box and when you're playing against the Pittsburgh Penguins, this is going to be the next thing you see.
Par for the course.
Jay Rosehill's stupidity didn't even stop or begin with this. Earlier in the game Rosehill was taking a page out of teammate Jason Blake's book and spearing Pittsburgh Penguins. The target, you ask? Kris Letang, as if the dude wasn't getting it bad enough in the past few days. I assume there is no photographic evidence of this because people are worried an army of Puck Bunnies, swooning of Kris Letang's majestic flowing mane, is out hunting for Rosehill as we speak.
Directly after the spear though, we see teammates rushing in. Bill Guerin, one of the last of his kind in my opinion, an old school 90s power forward that can take anything you throw at him and still give plenty back, rushed over and had the gloves off before you knew it, throwing them at Rosehill like it didn't even matter. What's stunning to me here is that Guerin didn't get an extra two for instigation, or a game misconduct, jokes.
Rosehill eventually got his, and I'm happy he did:
Some might not be impressed by Rupp in this fight because if anything he lost the fight. In cases like this, it doesn't matter. Rupp is doing a great thing here letting Rosehill know that, in the words of The Dude, "This aggression will not stand, man."
But, I've saved the best for last, fuck yeah Craig Adams! Adams has become a hero to me in the past few games with his fights, making the Pittsburgh Penguins fourth line one of the most formidable in the NHL with two guys always ready to drop the gloves and now Craig Adams ready to start shenanigans as well:
While this could have been further redemption from the Leafs for Craig Adams' elbow on Andy Rogers in the pre-season, the fact remains that Adams is more than willing to drop them.
So, what have we learned Toronto Maple Leafs? Philadelphia Flyers? In our two game swing of two goon teams, we learned that not only do the Leafs and Flyers not have the talent to beat us on the scoreboard but they don't have the talent to beat us in an alley either. With monsters like Eric Godard, Mike Rupp, and even Craig Adams who has discovered his fists along with his faceoff talent, the Pens are ready to play any game. Other people ready to drop the gloves like Jay McKee, Brooks Orpik, Tyler Kennedy, Matt Cooke, and Max Talbot when he comes back aren't even being mentioned yet. We have depth at scoring, and we have depth at toughness. Let the old Conn Smythe saying ring true for the 09-10 Penguins so far, "If you can't beat 'em in an alley, you can't beat 'em on the ice."
We'll beat you any way you want.