GM Jim Rutherford Calls Out Penguins For Lack Of Intensity

Says Pens have be outworked in a number of games. He also won't speculate on Brassard

Matt Koll
January 31, 2019 - 12:11 pm
Derick Brassard

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

PITTSBURGH (93.7 The Fan)- There have been plenty of trade rumors about Penguins center Derick Brassard recently, heightened by the fact that he was out of the lineup for Wednesday night's game against Tampa Bay because of a lingering "upper body injury."

You won't find Penguins GM Jim Rutherford participating in the speculations, though. 

"He's our third-line center, he didn't play last night because he has a minor injury and I'm not going to speculate beyond on that," Rutherford said on The Fan Morning Show Thursday.

On Monday of this week, Rutherford traded defenseman Jamie Oleksiak back to the Dallas Stars for the exact cost it took to get him, a fourth-round pick. Oleksiak was considered to be the Penguins' best option as the "enforcer" or "tough guy" on the team who would willingly stand up for his teammates and participate in a fight or two if need be. 

Rutherford was adament that despite moving on from Oleksiak, the Penguins still have enough grit to deal with the likes of say, popular villain Tom Wilson of the Washington Capitals. 

Related: Emotionally Engaged Malkin Provides Boost for Pens

"We're not going to build our team around one team that we may or may not play. I will remind you that we beat Washington two out of three years and I believe Tom Wilson was playing for them," said Rutherford. 'There's other guys that play physical games and we played probably the best team in the league last night in Tampa and they came at us with a physical game, with a lot of hits. Our team can play through that. We have guys that aren't necessarily fighters but they're tough." 

"We won two Stanley Cups out of the last three years. We played against teams that tried to be physical with us. We played Washington that had Tom Wilson in all three of those years and I don't see a reason why we should be building just because people are talking about one player." 

Rutherford admitted that his team gets up for bigger games against better opponents like last night against Tampa Bay. But make no mistake, he isn't too thrilled about the way the Penguins have gone about their season at different points this year and says it has cost them games along the way. 

"We're in a fight to see where we're going to position. We're close to first place but we're also close to teams catching us to knock us out of the playoffs," said Rutherford. "I don't like our intensity up until this point. We've had nights where we come to play and we can beat anybody. But, I believe that we've probably given away five to seven games [where] we just got outworked and they're games that we should have won."

"It's about playing the game the right way. We have an offensive-minded team that's fun to watch, it's a game that when we're going, we can win with. But there's nights where it's all offense and we don't play the game the right way. It's just a matter of getting back to the basics and playing the game the right way in all zones of the rink. We had nights where it was just cheating shift after shift, turn the puck over and then we got odd man rushes going against us all the time. I think we've given up the most odd man rushes in the league and with the players we have, it's unacceptable. So that's the adjustment that has to be made going down the stretch here and preparing for the playoff run." 

You can hear the entire interview with Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford on The Fan Morning Show below.           

        

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