Courtesy of Point Park University

Kovacevic: Who needs a Rutherford trade?


To continue reading, log into your account:

[theme-my-login show_title=0]
Tanner Pearson is congratulated on his first goal Friday night in Anaheim, Calif. - AP

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- "It's a good hockey team."

This was Jim Rutherford. And this came in a conversation we were having a few hours before the Penguins' outrageously energetic 7-4 comeback over the Ducks on this Friday night at the Honda Center, one in which they gave up the first three goals, then another of those awful short-handed breakaway goals after they'd tied ... then pretty much willed their way into all four scores of the final period.

Yeah, it's a good hockey team. Bordering on being much more.

Because it's one thing to rattle off a 15-3-1 run like what's been witnessed since early December. It's another to take six in a row now on the road, two shy of the franchise record. It's yet another to have all this happen through every facet of hockey. But it's quite another to roll it all together behind a disciplined foundation being built through universal buy-in.

"Anytime you come back from a three-goal deficit, I think it's a great character-builder," Mike Sullivan would say afterward. "We felt like we were playing well even when it was 3-0 after the first period. And that's what we said to the players. We told them, 'There's a lot of hockey left. We have the firepower. Let's just stay with it, stick to the game plan, and we can come back.' And ... I give our players a lot of credit for their stick-to-it-ive-ness."

That's not coachspeak, and it's definitely not as fun as the highlights that'll follow. But this outcome, as well as the bulk of what's led into it ever since they stopped behaving like herded strays, came from a collective belief in what the Penguins are supposed to be doing. No matter the score. No matter the situation. No matter the opponent.

To continue reading, log into your account: