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Mike Darnay is Editor-in-chief at Pensburgh.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikeDarnay, where he’ll be bitching about Liverpool FC as much as I am. 

The Penguins have lost Bonino, Cullen, Daley, Cunitz, and Fleury from last year’s champs. Which of these will hurt most?

I feel like this question might need to wait a little bit — at least until we see how Jim Rutherford decides to handle the 3C position. As it appears going into the season, losing Nick Bonino is going to hurt the most. If the Penguins can make a trade for someone like Riley Sheahan and remedy that roster spot, I think the answer might be Matt Cullen. He very quietly played a fantastic veteran role as a 4C (much like Michal Handzus did for Chicago, right?). (Not funny, Mike, -ED)

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Perhaps the oddest component of the Penguins’ back-to-back championships is that only two defensemen played every playoff game both years. One is Ian Cole, who obviously doesn’t matter. And the other is Brian Dumoulin.

It’s been a strange cast rotating through. Two years ago Ben Lovejoy played every game, and Kris Letang only missed one. Olli Maatta, Justin Schultz, Trevor Daley, and Derrick Pouliot also saw time in the playoffs.

Last year, Letang missed the whole playoff campaign, and Maatta, Ron Hainsey, Cole, and Dumoulin went the route. Schultz and Daley played most of them but missed a couple games each. Mark Streit and Chad Ruhwedel also came up for air at various points.

So with Letang’s body basically being constructed of balsa wood, is Dumoulin now the most important d-man in Pittsburgh?

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It’s not so much what Ryan Reaves is, because we’ve gone over that time and time again when he was belching and grunting his way through shifts in St. Louis. It’s that the two-time defending champions felt the need to trade for him that’s so dispiriting as a hockey fan.

Because the Penguins didn’t need this before, when they were having two parades you might have seen. The Pens decided to populate their fourth line with kids who could just skate really fast. They might not have been the most skilled, Kuhnackl, Wilson. Sheary, Rowney last year were some of the hellions that simply skated other plodding units into dust. They did it the year before as well.

That would also mean the last three champions didn’t need a “goon,” as the ’15 Hawks didn’t have one or need one. And generally these players are stripped of their jerseys in the playoffs, which lets you know that teams really do know deep down that they don’t serve any purpose.

I’m sure what Jim Rutherford would tell you is that he sees players like Tom Wilson in Washington or the rapidly-decomposing Brandon Dubinsky in Columbus who is only going to punch Crosby in the head or whatever other jackass is keeping him up at night. But hockey always has it backwards. GMs see Wilson try and decapitate someone, and not get suspended for the 10-15 games that is warranted, and they don’t conclude that they have to get this type of player out of the game. They conclude they need one of their own.

Hockey will remain in the dark, both in ages and viewership, until this type of dumbass brinksmanship is buried in the past. Let others have their morons, and score on the power plays they will assuredly give you.

It’s a sad state of affairs when the team that’s won the past two championships is still paying attention to the wrong scoreboard.

Game #1 Preview Posts



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Box Score

Event Summary

War on Ice

That’s probably more what people were expecting at the start of this series, no? For 60 minutes, both teams took turns taking the momentum, trading scoring chances and the lead. In the end, the difference was a deflected point shot on the second consecutive power play with same Blackhawk taking both penalties.

There was also the whole Ben Bishop and Andrei Vasilevskiy taking turns in the third period which was certainly unique.

Really one for the books, Jerry. Let’s get to it.

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oldschool at greased lightning

Game Time: 6:15PM Central
TV/Radio: NBC, CBC, TVA, WGN-AM 720
As The Eternal Cowboy: Raw Charge

With Wednesday night’s late two-goal rally to claim Game 1 in Tampa, the Hawks have already on paper accomplished what they needed to prior to the series turning north. But now is not the time of year to cede absolutely anything to the opponent, as the Lightning found out in emphatic fashion 3 nights ago.