By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)
Full disclosure: I did not watch the game, so this is based solely on tweets and text messages from Artistry.
I actually don't know who the Pens' 3 best players are (is Neal or Letang the 3rd?), but it doesn't really matter because both Neal and Letang can be crazy, so really it's 3 of the Pens' 4 best players who can't control themselves. And you could easily make the argument that it's all 4, because Sid is not one to sit back and watch everyone else melt down without getting in some slashes, sucker punches, and testicle-spears of his own.
Is this issue fatal to the Pens' Stanley Cup chances? It's impossible to say one way or the other. But three things are clear:
1) The lack of composure problem that killed the Pens in the playoffs the last two years is not going away.
Which leads to the next two things:
2) If there is one aspect of Sid's captaincy that's fair game for criticism, it's that his team can at times appear to be mentally soft. Should one guy making $9M have to babysit another guy making $9M, a guy making $7M, and a guy making $5M? In an ideal world, no, but such is life as a captain. Change the name on the back of Sid's jersey to, say, Ovechkin, and, well, you know.
3) The most compelling argument for breaking up the Pens' core -- which realistically can be done in only one way: trading Letang -- is that hoping your 4 best players don't go Chernobyl after the opposing goalie makes a couple big saves is no way to go through life.
In a vacuum, none of this is a big deal, and there are no shortages of excuses to be made (and actually being made) for each particular incident. But as a great man once said, "There's an old saying in Tennessee — I know it's in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again."
The counter-argument of course, is that having Crosby-Malkin-Letang-Neal as your four best players means you have four pretty f'ing great players.
Let us know your thoughts.