If there was a signature moment of the Pittsburgh Penguins need for more hard, physical play within their lineup, the first period against the Buffalo Sabres provided the posterization. Buffalo defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen planted Sidney Crosby, and it did alter the course of the game, even as the Penguins eventually cruised to a 4-0 win.
And don’t think for a moment that the President of Hockey Operations Brian Burke didn’t see it. Burke has already told a few media colleagues to expect some toughness on the way.
Early in the game on Thursday night, Crosby had to fight through some chips and whacks from Buffalo Sabres forwards. Then, defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen leveled Crosby near the left-wing wall like an old high rise.
The Penguins almost had a couple of scoring chances on the shift, but Crosby was not only slow to get up but slow to rejoin the play.
This is where you and I usually part company. There’s something embedded in the Penguins fandom that rejects being able to do that back to opponents as if it won’t help.