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Tuesday July 17 2018
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Ryan Reaves is bringing a package of intensity, fury to the Penguins

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Taking to a dark alley in a seedy neighborhood is something you’d rather not do alone. If you had to bring somebody with you, better make it Ryan Reaves.

Like Roddy Piper in the movie They Live, Reaves is here to do two things: chew bubblegum and kick ass.

Well, maybe that’s not completely accurate. 

He’s not much of a gum chewer out there.  The fourth line forward is a goal scorer, however, and he did it with two fights in Saturday’s 4-0 domination of Nashville at PPG Paints Arena.

“They traded for a goal scorer, and it just so happens I can fight once in a while,” said Reaves, who was rocking a Steelers football helmet during a post-game interview.

Of course, the furious fist fighter of Fifth would be wearing a football helmet.  Reaves is, after all, the outside linebacker of the ice.  He’s got the look of a fuming blitz specialist that would make Ryan Shazier proud.  The same look that would probably scare the hell out of Tom Brady.

The former St. Louis Blues right winger made his presence in Pittsburgh palpable Saturday night, as Reaves went mano-a-mano with two-thirds of the Predators’ fourth line, landing vicious haymakers on Austin Watson and Cody Mcleod-knocking the latter to the ice-and nearly making it a third bout with Scott Hartnell, who was bailed out by the refs and a scrum of both teams near the Pittsburgh bench.

“He’s a guy that when he’s on the ice, our opponents take notice,” said Mike Sullivan of Reaves and his play Saturday.  “He’s a tough kid, he finishes checks, he plays the game hard, he sticks up for his teammates and he scores a goal.”

“I think he’s a guy that’s going to be really valuable for our group,” continued coach.  “He brings a physical dimension to our team and we’re not really a bone crushing, body checking group.  Reavo brings that element to our team.   I think Reavo has the ability to have a positive influence on our team.”

“Reavo” is an appropriate nickname for a guy that could have easily joined Swan, Mercy and the rest of The Warriors gang on their epic trek back to Coney Island.

The 30-year-old is now in his seventh season in the NHL, playing his second full season a year ago in St. Louis, where Reaves totaled 13 points (seven goals) with 104 penalty minutes and 239 hits in 80 games.  He logged a combined 24 penalty minutes and 12 hits in two games against the Penguins.

“I’ve been on that side.  You want to get rid of (the puck) pretty quick,” said Sidney Crosby of Reaves.

The captain certainly recognizes the importance of having somebody like Reaves on his side.

“He created momentum.  He created space,” Sid explained of Reaves’ performance Saturday night.  “I don’t think anybody wants to go back for a puck when he’s got speed and he’s looking to finish a hit.  I think for him to have that presence, to stick up for guys and do what he did out there, that’s huge.”

Sid is not the only of Reaves' teammates that see him as somebody bringing a keen package of intensity and toughness to the ice, which creates a vital role for success in the long run for the Pens and their momentum game.

“He’s huge.  He was on his game.  He made some great plays,” said Olli Maatta.  “When he plays that way, he’s going to be good for us this season.”

And if you think Reaves won’t come out to play more often, think again.

“I think the first two games were sluggish with me, especially trying to be the physical leader of this team,” the ice-backer said.  “We drop two games in a row, and I think I took it upon myself to lead the way out.”

He laid one more haymaker of truth Saturday before he called it a night.

“I’m hungry for more,” Reaves implored with his chinstrap tightened.

Feed him.  

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