Pittsburgh Penguins: Are the Penguins Tough Enough?

PITTSBURGH, PA - FEBRUARY 15: Los Angeles Kings Goalie Jonathan Quick (32) makes a save on Pittsburgh Penguins Right Wing Ryan Reaves (75) during the first period in the NHL game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Los Angeles Kings on February 15, 2018, at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA. The Penguins defeated the Kings 3-1. (Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - FEBRUARY 15: Los Angeles Kings Goalie Jonathan Quick (32) makes a save on Pittsburgh Penguins Right Wing Ryan Reaves (75) during the first period in the NHL game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Los Angeles Kings on February 15, 2018, at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA. The Penguins defeated the Kings 3-1. (Photo by Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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Well the Pittsburgh Penguins were eliminated in the second round of the playoffs this year.

After falling short, it’s expected that critics of any team take a look at the thousands of possible things wrong with a team, especially for a team like the Pittsburgh Penguins who were expected to contend for the third championship in three years.

So today, we’re going to take a look at an aspect of hockey that many people , old school hockey fans especially, may believe any good team needs. That aspect is toughness.

Now the question of toughness is always subjective. Are we looking for grinders, or tough guys who will drop the gloves. Either way, should the Penguins be looking to bring any of that in for this upcoming season?

Tough Guys Right Now

Let’s take a look at the Penguins roster right now. Honestly, going up and down our forward core we can see that after that Ryan Reaves trade, we are left with an obvious lack of toughness. Reaves only played 58 games with the Pens and had 161 hits. Guentzel, who played a whole season, was second with 142.

So it looks like we’re empty on the toughness front right now. But this isn’t a problem. We won two cups without supposed “tough guys” and I think we can still do it without them.

Pittsburgh Penguins
Pittsburgh Penguins /

Pittsburgh Penguins

A Failed Experiment

The Penguins tried to get tougher last season when they went out and paid a hefty price to acquire Ryan Reaves at the Draft. Reaves was to bring in that “much needed” toughness to the team, and although he did that, it didn’t seem to help our team’s success much.

As a result, he was traded to the Vegas Golden Knights putting an end to that experiment. Having that toughness did not add much success to the team and I’d have to say we’re better off without it.

Just looking at tough guys on other teams, a lot of them are not finding places in their lineups. Let’s look at Toronto, who are having a predicament deciding what to do with tough guy Matt Martin.

Final Verdict

In the end, I do not think the Penguins need toughness at all. We should be going for skill, which is where the league is headed. Just look at Washington. A very fast, skillful team was able to take it all the way.

In fact, we should not even be looking to acquire any players based on their toughness. Instead, we should focus on players who can effectively play their positions and will increase the success of our team both offensively and defensively. Simple as that.