Roster Turnover is Key for Penguins Under GM Jim Rutherford
Under Rutherford, it's been a sizeable shakeup for Penguins
On the ice, there also are differences. Ten months into his tenure, Rutherford has turned over 49 percent of the team’s roster from a season ago: 19 of the 39 Penguins who played at least one game last season are gone.
The group of bottom-six forwards is deeper. The Penguins are more physical and have stood up for themselves by fighting more frequently. Size-wise, they’re slightly bigger.
“We can play in any style of game and still have a chance to win,“ Rutherford said. “We’ve done that even in the most recent one where we played in Washington, which has a big team. They can get physical. We were able to not only beat them but beat them in their building.“
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The most drastic difference has been how physical the Penguins are. Including all players, they're averaging 30.8 hits per game, their most since the NHL started charting the statistic. That's good enough for fifth in the league and far surpasses the team's 26.4 hit average a year ago.
They're also taking more penalties: 14.4 minutes per game this season compared to 10.1 minutes last season. They're averaging .49 fights per game and are on pace for 40 bouts, according to hockeyfights.com. That would be the most for a Penguins team since 2010-11 (71 fights).