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Breakfast with Benz

Ryan Reaves latest ex-Penguin to shine in playoffs

| Monday, May 7, 2018, 7:36 a.m.
The Golden Knights' Ryan Reaves tries to put a shot on goal as he is hit by the Sharks' Joakim Ryan during Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals May 6, 2018 in San Jose, Calif.
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The Golden Knights' Ryan Reaves tries to put a shot on goal as he is hit by the Sharks' Joakim Ryan during Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals May 6, 2018 in San Jose, Calif.

When it rains, it pours for ex-Penguins moving on with success.

While Penguins fans are sitting around, wringing their hands with stress over tonight's elimination game against the Capitals, the Vegas Golden Knights are moving on in the playoffs with Marc-Andre Fleury in net .

Conversely, Matt Murray has been average in the playoffs so far.

Then there is Chris Kunitz continuing to help Tampa Bay advance on the other side of the Eastern bracket.

All this isn't to mention James Neal, Deryk Engelland and David Perron riding the Golden Knights' golden wave, too.

The body of work from Phil Kessel and Patric Hornqvist takes the sting out there. The salt in the wound, though, yesterday was courtesy of Ryan Reaves.

The designated fighter was rarely used here in Pittsburgh. That's also been the case in Vegas. In fact, his first game of the postseason was yesterday.

But he was good. On the NBC broadcast, he was given the third star of the game. Reaves had eight hits in 10 minutes of action. He also added a shot on goal and block and had no giveaways. Plus he played the whole game penalty free.

Many hockey fans in Pittsburgh have it in their heads that Reaves would've helped the Penguins against the Flyers or the Capitals.

That somehow his presence would've precluded Carl Hagelin, Brian Dumoulin and Zach Aston-Reese from getting hit.

This, of course, is hogwash. Those plays all would've happened anyway because Reaves would've been scratched here just like he was scratched for the entire playoffs in Vegas until last night.

It's hard to be a "Tom Wilson deterrent" in the press box. What's he going to do? Pull a Joey Porter and try to fight Wilson near the team bus?

Reaves got into the lineup only because William Carrier, another hulking 6-foot-2, 212 pound winger, is injured and couldn't play.

The correlation that is driving some mad in Pittsburgh is that Reaves was moved in order to clear cap space to bring Derick Brassard on board at the trade deadline. Yet, Brassard has been disappointing since he got here.

Upon further review, where Reaves' absence may be most missed is that because of injuries to Penguins wingers, Dominic Simon has had to play way too much. Maybe Reaves, if he had played like he did last night, would have been a more beneficial option on the fourth line, thus freeing up another player to move up the chart.

Then again, if that situation was misread here in Pittsburgh, apparently it was misread until necessity called in Vegas as well.

Every time a fighter is acquired by the Penguins, we are told that he's more than a fighter. We are sold the bill of goods that he can skate and take a regular shift. Reaves appeared to be much closer to the truth in that regard than Georges Laraque, Eric Cairns or Eric Godard.

Just to name a few.

However, Mike Sullivan still barely played Reaves as the season went along. So dealing him didn't seem like all that big of a deal at the time.

"The whole roster is full of guys whose teams said 'we don't want you' or 'we want other players more,' " Reaves told when asked about Vegas' lineup. "It's a bunch of guys who are hungry. And they all can play."

How much Reaves can really play was clearly up for debate here. Unfortunately, though, the same debate is being had about Brassard now.

And that's what is making local hockey fans grit their teeth while noting Reaves' absence.

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