The Old War horse Returns

We here at Balls are quivering in anticipation of Gary Roberts’ return to the Pittsburgh Penguin’s lineup tonight against the Detroit Red Wings. but we are inclined to give Michael Therrien a break for scratching the old warrior for game one. (That is to say I’m inclined to give the guy a break, and since I’m the only one who seems to be posting lately, I am invoking the “Royal We.”)

Here’s the thing – hockey is a bizarrely superstitious game. And while Therrien was talking yesterday about “rewarding” the guys who won the last series against Philadelphia…what he really means is that he was terrified of messing with the luck. Changing the lineup after winning a playoff game would be akin to changing your socks after a no-hitter… You just don’t do that sort of thing. You don’t make any changes as long as you’re winning. I rather suspect that Roberts knows this too, and even though he was clearly pissed about being left out of game one, that’s part of the reason why he didn’t say much about it.

That said, Roberts is essential to the success of a young, and slightly soft Pittsburgh team. If they’re going to win, they need him out there — driving the net, hitting Lidstrom and Rafalski and Kronwall, and generally mucking around and making things unpleasant for everybody wearing red. I predict Roberts
will only get 10-12 minutes of ice time, and he’ll still manage to be a significant presence out there.

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