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Rossi: Shero no stranger to in-season moves

| Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, 12:22 a.m.
Penguins general manager Ray Shero on the phone next to Mario Lemuiex as the Penguins trade Jordan Staal to the Hurricanes for the eight pick in the 2012 NHL Draft at Consol Energy Ceneter June 22, 2012. Chaz Palla | Tribune Review

NEW YORK

Ray Shero seemed to know what was up Thursday when discussing the acquisition of left winger Zach Boychuk.

“I mean, you're always looking to add to your group, if possible,” Shero said outside the visitors' dressing room at Madison Square Garden.

There are 40 games remaining for the Penguins.

The Stanley Cup co-favorites — at least according to the noted hockey experts in Las Vegas — have the look of a club that lacks consistency.

This is no strange spot for the Penguins.

Really.

The Penguins looked nothing like a Cup favorite, and very much like a bet to miss the playoffs, in early February 2009.

The narrative from that silver season is shaped around Shero's decision to sack coach Michel Therrien in favor of Dan Bylsma in mid-February and over the next few weeks trade for wingers Chris Kunitz and Bill Guerin.

Certainly the Penguins would not have won the Cup without those moves.

There were a lot of other moves Shero made to solidify a roster that was heavy on star power (Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Marc-Andre Fleury), but light on, well, depth and energy.

Nov. 16, 2008: He swapped an unhappy veteran defenseman (Darryl Sydor) for one happy to play any role (Philippe Boucher).

Jan. 17, 2009: Veteran goalie Mathieu Garon was landed in exchange for goalie Dany Sabourin, forward Ryan Stone and a fourth-round pick in 2011.

Neither Boucher nor Garon played a lot for the Penguins after their arrivals, but they stabilized the Penguins on defense and in goal.

Coincidence or not, then-emerging defenseman Kris Letang and starting goalie Fleury were better players after Boucher and Garon entered the equation.

Another move Shero made to set up the Cup run remains perhaps his most underrated.

March 4, 2009: Forward Craig Adams was claimed off waivers.

That transaction was not fully appreciated until the final two playoff rounds, during which Adams played a pivotal role in a Penguins' penalty kill that frustrated the imposing power plays of Carolina and Detroit.

Rare is the Cup champion that looks the same with 40 games remaining as it does in June.

Rarer is the general manager who changed his club's fortunes with just one or two high-profile moves.

Already this season Shero has looked to the waiver wire for Boychuk, a no-risk speedy winger who could fit Bylsma's system.

These Penguins have the look of a club that will need moves both big and small. Depth and energy again look troublesome.

This is not an unfamiliar sight for Shero, who appears well aware there is work to be done before the April 3 trade deadline.

That work is in progress.

Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rrossi@tribweb.com or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.

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