Published: Tuesday, Jun 13th 2017, 2:06pm
By: Greg McCulloch (@GregOnSports)
As a Pittsburgh Penguins fan I had no doubt they wouldn’t find a way to win Sunday night:
1) They were on the road and all 4 Stanley Cups were won on the road. Their only Stanley Cup loss was against Detroit at home in game 6.
2) Crosby and company had done it before the previous season.
3) I was playing floor hockey during the game and like the previous season, I probably would only catch victory celebration.
The stars were perfectly aligned for another Stanley Cup swim at Lemieux’s pool.
First, the Nashville Predators and their fans have nothing to hang their heads about. They went toe to toe with the defending champion and turned heads by doing so. As much as the media liked pushing the 16th seed narrative they were fast, hit hard, and had strong goaltending through the playoffs (apart from the games in Pittsburgh). For the record, you cannot be the 16th seed when you only have 8 seeds on one side. Did they have the lowest point total of teams that made the playoffs? Yes, but still they were the 8th seed in the West, if they were a true 16th seed they should have played the #1 seed in Washington first round, but I digress.
The Preds have a young core, an amazing fan base, and solid goaltending. They will be battling with the Chicago and Edmonton for first in the West next year.
There are a few things we can take away from the Penguins win.
Thank God, they didn’t pull the trigger on a Fleury trade at the deadline.
Matt Murray’s freak warm-up injury before game 1 of the playoffs could have been the dagger in the Pens run for the repeat. Fleury stepped in without hesitation and carried the team through the first 2 rounds like it was 2009. Many see Fleury being selected by the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft, so if Sunday was Fleury’s last night as a Penguin, it was good to see those first 2 rounds.
Plus, to punctuate it by passing the Cup to Murray as a pseudo torch was a touching moment. So, the Penguins pretty much have no choice to get rid of him now, or that moment was wasted.
One man’s trash defenseman is another Stanley Cup winner
Justin Schultz, Trevor Daley, Brian Dumoulin, Ron Hainsey, Olli Maata, and Ian Cole.
Even Vegas without a roster is looking at that list of defensemen and going, “Nah we’re good with what we have”.
The Penguins are the only team to ever win the Stanley Cup without a Norris vote for any of their defensemen. That right there is something special. When the Penguins lost Letang to injury, there were concerns that the back end would suffer. Despite the loss of their number 1 defenseman, the defensive unit played solid throughout the playoffs and showed that maybe people should have given them more credit.
Hot Dog! 2 for 2!
Say what you want about Phil Kessel, and Lord knows I did before and once he was traded to the Penguins, the guy is playing his role perfectly with the Pens. He’s not expected to be the star or carry the team, but when the moment comes and he has the puck on his stick the guy can play.
Despite all the baggage that followed him around from Boston, Toronto, the all-star game, the tell-all interview with his hot dog vendor… He has shrugged it off and is playing great hockey. How long can he, Sid, and Geno still be on the same team is uncertain but right now it is fun to watch.
Sid and the Kid.
It’s hard to believe that Crosby has been in the league for 12 years already. Seems like yesterday the NHL rigged the lottery, I mean had a lottery to determine the Crosby sweepstakes. However, in that time Crosby has 3 Stanley Cups and lost another. 4 out of 12, he’s averaging a Stanley cup trip every 3 years and a victory every 4 years. Hell, it took Hainsey 14 years just to get 1.
When Crosby was drafted Jake Guentzel was 9 years old and he could have very well won the Conn Smythe Trophy this year if Crosby didn’t. Guentzel tied the rookie points total for the playoffs and fell one goal shy of tying Dino Ciccarelli’s rookie goal record.
Sid and the kid are going to have some good years ahead and it will be fun to watch.
The Penguins will no doubt be early favourites to win the Cup again next year but there are many changes coming to the roster. The expansion draft will probably claim Fleury and if it doesn’t I could see the Penguins moving him. Kunitz, Cullen, Bonino, Hainsey are all unrestricted free agents at the end of the year could very well not be in the team’s plans going forward.
But for now let’s prepare for the parade, this only happens once… every 4 years on average.
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