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Hallelujah Hollywood: Penguins Repeat! – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

Hallelujah Hollywood: Penguins Repeat!

“We could have clubs for the next eight or nine years like this.”

Venerable Eddie Johnston, then the Penguins’ senior advisor, uttered those words shortly after the team won the Stanley Cup back in 2009. How prophetic he was.

However, for the longest time—through an unending string of playoff disappointments—it seemed the promise of those days would go unfulfilled. In hindsight, the core players had some growing to do.

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I’m happy to say, the maturation process is complete. Thanks to an incredible team effort, the Pens captured their second Stanley Cup in a row, and third in nine seasons, with a riveting 2-0 victory over the game but ultimately outgunned Nashville Predators in Game Six of the Stanley Cup Final.

It truly was a masterful win over a fiercely determined adversary, one that cements the Pens’ legacy as the premier NHL team of the new millennium. Or, at the very least, places them alongside the Chicago Blackhawks, who likewise have won three Cups in the past decade.

Proving every bit worthy of coach Mike Sullivan’s unwavering confidence, goalie Matt Murray led the way with an icy-cool performance that belied his rookie status. As sharp and poised as I’ve seen him, the kid from Thunder Bay turned aside 27 shots to earn his second-straight shutout—with a little help from the officials.

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Early in the second period, the Preds’ Colton Sissons beat “Muzz” clean on a rebound. Referee Kevin Pollock—his view impeded by Pens defenseman Trevor Daley and Nashville forward Filip Forsberg—assumed the puck was frozen beneath Murray’s pads. He blew the whistle a millisecond before Sissons’ shot crossed the goal line.

Some things aren’t meant to be.

Pollock and fellow referee Dan O’Halloran tried to make amends. They turned a collective blind eye to a number of obvious Nashville infractions, none more glaring than a brutal tag-team trip of Daley in the third period that resulted in the Pens’ defender landing chest-first on the ice.

On the flip side, the officials doled out four questionable minors to the black and gold, including a dubious pair of penalties to Olli Maatta and Daley midway through the third period to give the Preds a 5-on-3 for 32 seconds. Talk about handing the game to Nashville on a silver platter!

Backed by Murray’s airtight play, the Pens’ penalty killers rose to the occasion in superb fashion.

What a game it was. Truly, last night’s contest was a glittering jewel, packed with all the passion, tension and gut-wrenching drama the NHL could hope for on its center stage.

In stark contrast to the first five games, each decided in lopsided fashion, this one resembled the 1978 Belmont Stakes, when the great thoroughbred rivals Affirmed and Alydar tore neck and neck through the homestretch to a dramatic photo finish.

Which team would flinch first?

I’m pleased to report it was Nashville.

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It seems altogether appropriate that Patric Hornqvist netted the game-winner. After all, the Pens’ transformation from playoff flop to super achiever began that fateful June day in 2014 when general manager Jim Rutherford acquired the ultra-gritty Swede from Nashville for sniper James Neal.

“We wanted to change the mix of the team,” said Rutherford at the time.

Boy, did he ever.

With 1:35 left in regulation No. 72—wreaking havoc in the slot—chased down a ricochet of a wayward Justin Schultz blast. In his inimitable scrambling style, “Horny” chipped the puck off Pekka Rinne’s left arm and in. The tally was pretty and ugly all at the same time.

Moments later Hornqvist’s best friend and countryman, Carl Hagelin, outraced Preds villain P.K. Subban to a loose puck and escorted it into an empty Nashville net.

As I watched our guys frolic with the Cup like a bunch of frisky colts set out to pasture, I felt so intensely proud, not to mention deeply and richly blessed to cheer for them. Each one, from captain Sidney Crosby to fellow superstars Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel to Black Aces like Josh Archibald, contributed in some way to the triumph. Makes me wish we could divvy up the Conn Smythe Trophy (awarded to Sid) and hand a piece to each player.

I was especially happy for Marc-Andre Fleury. Unlike last spring, when he seemed reluctant to celebrate, Fleury eagerly took Lord Stanley’s chalice for a long skate before symbolically passing it to Murray.

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Couldn’t have won it without you, “Flower.”

And what about the job Sullivan and his staff did? How they got their bruised and battered troops to refocus time and again, I’ll never know.

Let other coaches have the Jack Adams. Thanks to “Sully,” we’ve got the Cup.

With expansion and free agency looming just around the corner, change is in the wind. It’s a safe bet that some members of the team will be wearing other uniforms come the fall…perhaps even the beloved Fleury. Assistant Rick Tocchet is rumored to be the front-runner for the Buffalo coaching job.

It’ll be a sad day, indeed, to see this mighty champion broken up.

For now, let’s revel in the triumph.

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*Be sure to check out Rick Buker’s books,
 
available at TriumphBooks.com, Amazon.com, and BarnesandNoble.com

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29 Comments

  1. Jim's Gravatar Jim
    June 13, 2017 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Hey Coach,
    I am sure that JR and company are laser focused on what needs to be done in this busy month of June. I fully agree with you that we should get a decent return for MAF and not just give him away to Vegas for nothing. ( I will come back to this point.)
    I would like to hi-lite a few issues to consider first. Real Pen’s concerns !
    1. Management. We recently just lost Jason B. our number 2 man to Buffalo to become their new General manger. His defection or promotion however you wish to perceive it, will have an affect on our team over all. Already there are rumors of Rick Tochett becoming the Head Coach of Buffalo plus other defections including our Director of Scouting moving to Buffalo.
    2. Ownership. The value of the Pen’s franchise has never been higher than today and given tough economic times ahead may never reach this level again for a long time.
    Mario wants to cash in some or most of his equity. You can not blame him.
    With the very high US dollar at this moment in comparison to the Canadian dollar, roughly 1$ American is worth $ 1.34 Canadian,now is the time to do it.
    For my US friends,please note Mario built a new home about 2 years ago just outside Quebec City. Why ? For his retirement and return to his native home of Quebec !! It cost him 28 million when he built it. He has deep family roots there and to the business community as well. So I am watching to see what he will do. Interesting that Billionaire Ron Burkle brought a minority partner about Christmas time into the ownership group. She too is reported to be a Billionaire with a back ground in building development.
    Maybe she will buy some of Mario’s shares?
    A key point Coach. Mario’s own words last year.” If we do NOT make the play offs our team will LOSE money. The only way we make money is to win”.
    Reportedly, some sources say Mario owns 30 % +/- of the team. The sale price at one time was 650 + million. No takers last year. This year may be so.
    If Mario wanted to sell 20 % of the Pen’s and keep 10%… That is a smart thing to do. High US dollar and High Team Value….Now is the time. So I will watch to see what develops Coach.
    3. City of Pittsburgh. Even in little back water New Brunswick you read in the media about the failed land developments and promises made to the City about redevelopment of all the lands surrounding PPG Center. When your main business is Hockey you really should not be in the land development business. Two different animals.
    Who could ever predict that US STEEL would not, or better said could not build their new Head Quarters as promised due to falling steel prices 3 years ago ?
    4. Changing of the Guard in the NHL !! Very important Coach. New York Rangers, Washington, Montreal, San jose, Detroit, LA, Vancouver…and others.
    There are many new kids on the block and they are going to overtake a lot of these power house teams of old. There is parity now in the league. The old guys are going down !! Only the teams who have the courage to trade their aging superstars for young talent and quickly develop that talent will win.
    Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine, even Jake G. does you NO GOOD if you do not take a chance and let them play. Do we have that courage Coach ?
    5. Are we going to trade MAF, Letang and or who ever else we have too to get the future pieces we need to 3 peat ? It is all about dollars !
    Mario said the challenge is to find young, hi quality talent who will play almost as good or in some cases as good as the veterans making 5 million + and pay them 1 million dollars or less. THAT IS THE TRUTH COACH.
    I know I sound crazy on this point, but Crosby,Malkin ,Kessel,Letang MAF can NOT win you a cup alone ! Lets add Horny and Hagelin. 7 payers.
    You pay about 47 million dollars a year in Cap Hit for these 7 players.
    Counting 2 spares, you need 22 players to make a functional team due to injuries sometimes.
    The Salary Cap is 73 million apx. and you pay 47 million to your 7 super guys. You have 15 players left you need to sign for 26 million dollars left.
    Did you notice Coach I am a little shy in defense men? 5 or 6 maybe ?
    There is the problem..
    We need high quality first round picks like mentioned above who will have a
    3 year entry level contract with Cap hits of less than 1 million dollars each.
    Can you imagine having 6’5″ Patrik Laine playing along side of Malkin and having Auston Matthews on a line with Crosby and Jake and big Noah Hanafin on defense ? All for under 3 million dollars a year..
    That is why we need high end, top 5 draft picks to make an immediate impact on our team.
    We need the Courage to make the big trades. Fans may not like it at first but when we win a third Cup every one will be happy.

    I will post more specifics later about certain players i would want to sign.
    Interested to hear your and others comments.

    • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
      June 13, 2017 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

      Hey Jim,

      Certainly losing some key back room boys like Jason B and Rick Tocchet will hurt, but that is the curse of success, people want to steal it so they go after your seconds in command and who could blame either for moving upward.

      But like you, I am a proponent of looking at the team like a business and not a fan. I would love to see all these guys retire Penguins, but reality says it is time to trade some of them whilr their value is high, to try and maintain a good crop of youngsters.

      Rick started a new page so I will see you over there.

  2. the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
    June 12, 2017 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    Hey Jim,

    As I wrote below I am moving my answer to your comments up hear to open up some writing space.

    I am amenable to trading both MAF and Letang as I have said. As a fan I would love to see them both retire a Penguin, but if the Pens want to threepeat, as you said below, courage is the watchword, courage to make hard decisions; business decisions.

    I don’t want to see Fleury go free of charge to Vegas, that is highway robbery.

    If Vegas is really interested in Fleury how about this idea, we trade Fleury to Vegas for their 1st round pick.

    Then going with your idea about Letang and Sheary, former Shero guys, the Pens package Letang, Sheary and Pouliot to NJD for their 1st pick and maybe a back-up goalie so that they could comply with the expansion draft rules (that is why I throw Pouliot in the deal).

    So now the Pens have 3 first round picks. Granted, this is not a very deep year but they now have tons of money freed up from MAF and Letang. They can definitely resign Schultz and if they don’t lose Domoulin in the expansion draft, they can then make fair offers to him and Bonino (I still don’t over-pay them) then I should still have plenty of $$$ to go after Shattenkirk. He didn’t look all that good in the playoffs but that may have been more of a question of the Caps system and/or pairing him with Orpik. I would also first want to have a talk with him, what I love about this team is that it is a team and I wouldn’t want to sign a cancer.

    With three picks in the first round I then try and deal my 2nd round pick to Colorado for Zadorov, particularly if I lose Domoulin in the expansion draft.

    Then with my three picks; 1st I think would prefer Nolan Patrick but suspect Sully would prefer Nico Hischier, then with my Vegas pick I think I would take Nicolas Hague, if my scouts agreed with what I have read about him, but when you suggested that Finn were you talking about Heiskanen? I could be talked into taking him, particularly if I got the feel that rest of the league may pass on Hague until I got my third pick. I haven’t really looked to see what I would do with our normal pick. Not sure who would last that long. I think I would look for a LW.

    I reserve the right to amend those thoughts though as I think about it more.

    • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
      June 13, 2017 at 8:42 am | Permalink

      Hey Jim,

      That number 1 may be off the board as an opportunity. I saw a headline (didn’t read the full article yet) saying that Shero is now leaning toward keeping the overall number 1.

      I still hate the thought of losing MAF for absolutely nothing!

    • June 13, 2017 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      Hey tOR,

      Calgary needs a goalie. After Elliot bombed in the playoffs and after Fleury rocked it the first two rounds I bet they are willing to sit back at the bargaining table (i have heard rumour from an impeccable source that Calgary was bargaining with the Pens for Fleury)

      Dougie Hamilton for Fleury, Pouliot & Kunackle or any of the mix and match wingers. If Calgary is bargaining hard, throw in Hagelin instead of Kunackle That gives you $13 million in cap left or $17 million if Pens lose Hagelin. Then you protect Letang/Dumoulin/Maatta/Hamilton and chance it that Vegas doesn’t pick up Shultz’s RFA. Resign Shultz if the gamble works. Then sign Hainsey for a low amount and if you have anything left go after Shattenkirk or Shattenkirk for sure if the Shultz plan fails.

      That would give the Pens an insane defense to go along with the insane offense and probably enough left over to retain Kunitz & Bonino. That’s how I would do it.

      • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
        June 13, 2017 at 11:58 am | Permalink

        Hey Phil,

        Good thoughts but what does that leave Calgary? Do you think they would really give up Hamilton? What good would getting a great goalie be if you only have a couple of good skaters and give up one of your top ones. Unless they think Pouliot will break out next year?

        However, If they are willing, I doubt I would be complaining about our D next year, that looks real good on paper.

        I hate the idea that Vegas gets to raid any of the FAs (RFA or UFA) before anyone else gets the chance. However, if I am an RFA or UFA, I would definitely wait until everyone else gets in the mix to work my best deal. I am hoping that at least the Pens FAs are smart enough to wait until everyone can make offers before they ink anything.

        I thought the teams could only protect 3 D men, in the draft. so after Letang and Hamilton, who would you protect? It would be nice if teams could look over the protected lists of other teams. If there are a lot of unprotected good offensive D men you could try and sneak a more offensive D man through and vice verse.

        • June 13, 2017 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

          There is also what I thought was a “any 9” player rule, but it is only 8 and will not work for the Pens. it would be better to protect 10, as Hornqvist or some other player would go unprotected.

          Looking at the rules the Penguins are in a bit of a defensive pickle. They need to have one defense man available for the draft that is signed next year that has played either 40 NHL games this year or 70 nhl games over the last two years.

          All they have that fits that right now are Maatta or Cole.

          Streit and Hainsey are the only guys they can sign to hang out for the draft. Ouch.

          Unless they get a crazy draft picks offer for Fleury, or an offer that can move Letang also. Letang did have to pick 10 teams he could be traded to Calgary could be one. I think maybe saving Fleury for the expansion draft may be the way to go. At least it free’s up contract money..

          • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
            June 13, 2017 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

            Letang for Hamilton straight up sounds fairly even. If I remember correctly Calgary wasn’t too happy at one point during the season with Hamilton. They may go with that. But it still leaves Fleury exposed to the draft and no return for the Pens. Anyone else on the Flames roster you would want in a package deal where we give them both Letand and Fleury. I amy take their 1st Pick as part of the compensation but for both of those players I want more than just Hamilton and their first pick this year.

            • Jim's Gravatar Jim
              June 13, 2017 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

              Hey Guys
              Great idea on Calgary.
              If we could land Hamilton for Letang and Pouliot and few other throw ins I would do it tomorrow.

      • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
        June 13, 2017 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

        Hey Phil,

        Thinking a little more about this, what if Calgary isn’t willing to give up Hamilton, what if they offer their first pick and Tkachuk (read somewhere something about him being on the block) for Fleury, Poultiot and Kuhnhackl, Would you take the trade?

        We don’t get the D man in that trade we need but we can still go after Shattenkirk and or sign Schultz.

        • June 13, 2017 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

          I thinking because of my statement about defensemen above, it is either a knockout trade or nothing. We lose too much in the expansion draft without Fleury. Right now, an unprotected Dumoulin is a huge problem that having Fleury available fixes.

          Tkachuk is a wild card that seems more interested in hits and fights than playing hockey. I really think the Pens and their hockey first worry about the BS later has been a huge success. Some games it’s painful to watch them getting beat up, but two Cups later who am I to say.

      • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
        June 13, 2017 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

        Okay Phil,

        You really peaked my thoughts here; so what do you think of this offer if they reject the first offer for Hamilton. What about Fleury, the rights to Schultz and Kuhnhackl or Hagelin for Hamilton and either their first pick or Tkachuk?

        With Letang and Hamilton, Schultz is not as important and we don’t have to worry about Vegas trying to sign him either. Also, although I like Kuhnhackl the Pens seem reluctant to use him.

  3. the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
    June 12, 2017 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Hey to post this today while we still are all celebrating but I just looked on the NHL website and they are reporting MAF has waived his no trade clause to go to Vegas in the draft.

    • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
      June 12, 2017 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

      The article didn’t say Vegas was going to take him though.

      • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
        June 12, 2017 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

        What I just read on the PG was that MAF agreed back in Feb to this. So I guess this is just confirmation to the rumors we heard way back then.

        • Jim's Gravatar Jim
          June 12, 2017 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

          Hey Coach
          Acording to Internet cap sites, MAF and Letang both can be traded to 19 teams while blocking 12. They both have Limited non movement clauses whereby they give a list to management of the 19 teams they would accept a trade to. So JR does have some options. Only Sid and Geno have no movement /no trade contracts the Internet site states.
          Knowing JR he probably has something in the works for MAF.
          I am interested in hearing your assessment of the Pen’s moving forward.

          • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
            June 12, 2017 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

            I know both have limited no trade clauses but to use Fleury as our goalie in the expansion draft he had to waive the NTC. Even limited NTCs mean a team has to use a protected slot on a player.

            It is a tough decision for all parties but I would rather see MAF traded than given away for free to Vegas. I do think a Fleury – Vegas relationship would be mutually beneficial; Vegas will win more games, while Fleury’s style will certainly make him a fan favorite.

            However, Fleury’s value has to be really high right now. I still am thinking about how the Pens could pry the NJD pick off of them and MAF should be able to procure players that could be dealt to NJD. No, I don’t think either Patrick or the other kid are in the class of Crosby, Malkin, or McDavid, but I would still like to get that pick.

            As for Letang, I think you and I are on the same page. Letang when healthy is world class. If he was healthy during the play-offs the Pens dispatch both Ottawa and Nashville much quicker. By the Conference finals other teams figured out how to cut the breakout passes and the Pens needed a D man capable of carrying the biscuit to make them honest.

            However, if the Pens are dangerously close to losing Bonino to Montreal as you have hinted, I would throw a little extra money at Bonino, sign him and then package him with Letang for Weber. Weber and Letang are roughly equal in salary. I think it could be worked out. Bonino is a great defensive and clutch C but there still is only so much I would really want to pay him.

            I know these are discussions I have already mentioned but I am looking forward to playing arm chair GM over the next couple of weeks here on these boards and discussions with you and anyone who wants to join in on how the Pens could best position themselves for a threepeat.

            • Jim's Gravatar Jim
              June 12, 2017 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

              Hey Coach…
              I am really glad we won and now we can FINALLY talk about this team building and arm chair GM stuff that I enjoy with out your superstitions getting in the way.
              Here is a simple deal.Take MAF. Add Derrick Pouliot, one of Shero’s boys, then add in Connor Sheary,while his value is still high.Then add Trevor Daley.
              Float that by Shero to start for his first. Then keep adding pieces.

              Or…Offer Shero Letang and Pouliot for his 1st and 2nd.
              Try to resign Shultz.
              Then
              Package MAF and our 30th pick , plus some pieces like
              Daley and Sheary to move up to 5,6,7 pick and grab a defense man. That Finn looks really good.

              Just go get your mind thinking COACH.

              I am being greedy .
              If MAF, SCHULTZ and or Letang and then possibly Dumolion and Sheary are all in play we should be able to get 3 number good one picks.
              At least 2 in the top 5.

              Life becomes interesting.
              What say you…Mon Amis.

            • Jim's Gravatar Jim
              June 12, 2017 at 8:28 pm | Permalink

              Sorry for the typos.
              FYI
              Plus we could trade MAF and move Jarry up and protect Murray. To certain teams MAF value would be a lot higher.
              Thanks

            • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
              June 12, 2017 at 8:43 pm | Permalink

              Hey Jim,

              You pose some interesting ideas, I think I am going answer in a new thread to open up more space for us to write.

  4. Jayelene's Gravatar Jayelene
    June 12, 2017 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

    This entire, miraculous Stanley Cup run has left me nearly speechless. (Some will say that in itself is a miracle!) But I will just say, THANK YOU! Thanks to the Pens for climbing what at times looked like an impossible mountain, and thanks to all the posters on this blog, from Rick on down. As Jim put it so eloquently in an earlier post, ‘…you’ve made this a memorable journey, and one I will never forget.’ Thanks guys, and GO PENS … THREEPEAT!

  5. the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
    June 12, 2017 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Threepeat anyone?

    Well, there is no time to rest on your Laurels. Act one of the 2017-2018 season is only a couple of days away! If those ducks aren’t lined-up, line ‘em up.

    Time to celebrate today. Time to roll up your sleeves tomorrow JR

    • June 12, 2017 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

      Threepeat will be all the talk coming up.

    • Jim's Gravatar Jim
      June 12, 2017 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

      Three peat is possible Coach. I am hoping for one already and we have not even had a parade in Pittsburgh yet.
      It will take courage and intelligence to accomplish it. Do we have it ?
      Due to the Vegas situation, the Cap crunch, free agency and the entry draft being only 12 days away, you are right in that we have very little time to celebrate properly. Decisions have to be made quickly.
      I know this is a lame answer but it has merit…It just depends on who we resign, who will we let go and who will we TRADE, if we three peat or not !
      I know you are fully aware of this fact but for the others who may not, the value for our players is at the MAXIMUM now and up to draft day. The blockbuster trades are usually done just before or during the draft. Plus
      with free agency looming all these factors are really interrelated.
      It comes down to courage to make the right deal. For example we just won the Cup with out the services of Letang ? It could be argued that we may not need him to win so therefore he should be in play. Makes sense ?
      Very same argument as MAF. If we had the cap space I would not even consider moving those players. I am so sorry fellow Pen’s fans, we do not the cap space to do it. We are a victim of our own success.
      Free agency. Dumo and Schultz will both get VERY big raises this year.
      I knew Justin would fetch a big dollar on the open market because he was paid very big dollars in Edmonton as a college player and if he continued to develop many teams would pay him the 5- 6+ million he deserves on the open market. What I failed to see was the rapid rise of Brian D. He is young. 6’4″, 220 pounds, skates well, moves the puck well, and can play at both ends of the rink. Tested under extreme pressure of the play offs. Plus he has 2 cup rings as well. What are all the other 30 NHL general mangers looking for ? Big, mobile, 2 way d men with Cup experience !! He will get big offers that will surprise many of you because of his play this past 2 month’s.
      4- 5 + million easily. Crazy, but that is the market for experienced d-men.
      To be brutally honest they both deserve these big pay days.
      We can not afford to resign them all. Plus we still have other holes in the d corps that need to be addressed. So what do we do ?
      Bonino, Sheary will both get serious raises. 1 million + each. Maybe more for Bones. Plus the army of others that need to be evaluated and determine if they fit the plan moving forward to three peat.
      Lots of work to be done in the next 12 days Coach.
      Lots of big moves that COULD be done if we have the COURAGE.
      I hope we do.

      ” Shout for Glee….let’s make it Three ” 🙂

  6. the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
    June 12, 2017 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Like you, Rick, and some others on these boards, I go back a long way, to the beginning of the Pens. I still remember the Les Binkley and Michel Briere, so remembering the Pens 1st back-to-back championship is rather easy. That team was loaded with an assemblage of talent that my never be seen again; Lemieux, Jagr, Stevens, Francis, Coffey, Murphy, Recchi, Tocchet, both Samuelssons, Barrasso, Mullen, Trottier, or so I thought. Well maybe that team still was the greatest assemblage of talent, but this team is no doubt the best Pens “team” ever!

    This “team” personifies team. They endured injury after injury and did not make excuses; the “next man up” just stepped in and did what he had to do. This team fought through some of the worst officiating I have seen in years; Ovie’s High Stick and Skate Kick no call, Methot’s multiple obstruction penalty non-calls, Ryan’s head hunting non-calls, the stick-breaking cross-check on Kuhnhackl non-call, the unsportsmanlike water-bottle squirting of Crosby, the multiple good goals waved off, and more, yet they never whined, they never got caught up in the circus antics that the other teams tried play and the league endorsed. They stayed focused and went out and did their job and won.

    The list of heroes was long;

    MAF is a class act, handing off the Cup to Murray after all the hoopla. MAF was the main reason the Pens breezed through CBJ. And although he started to stumble in the WAS series, he slammed the door shut in game 7.

    Murray, what a way to make a statement; 2-SO s, 6 straight periods of slam the door goaltending, goaltending was just as important to this Cup as the phenomenal offensive performance these past 25 games. No one can doubt that the Murray-Fleury tandem was the best tandem in Pgh history and has to go up there in league history.

    Crosby; the guy fought through the worst obstruction penalties seen in decades. In the end he still finished only 1 point off of the play-off scoring title. And let’s not forget him picking the team up in game 5 of these finals.

    Malkin quietly had the best offensive output of any player in the post-season and finished with the second best +/- of all forwards; not too shabby for a player many haters keep insisting is a defensive liability.

    Okay so Matthews and Laine made the headlines among rookies in the regular season but it was the kid Guentzel who tied and set G and Pts rookie records for the post season. I know I have been critical of Roenick as a sports caster in the past, but what a class act he turned out to be last night interviewing Guentzel after the game. He looked liked he really appreciated watching Guentzel’s play rather than jealously, begrudgingly interviewing him after he passed his rookie record. And let’s add 5 game winning goals to his achievements.

    Kessel, like Malkin still draws criticism, he only finished the season third in scoring and had the best +/- of all Pens Fs. And in 2 post seasons of play as a Penguin stands only behind Jagr in playoff points by a RW. Thanks again Toronto.

    How about Cullen? You mentioned Murray on that 5 on 3 PK but what about Cullen? Let’s add to that all the FO wins. If you do not come back as a player Cullen, and I don’t blame you, please come back as a coach and teach our kids how to win FO s.

    Kunitz just seems to get better as the games get bigger. I am still in awe of your tape-to-tape no look pass to set up Sheary!

    And although I have been critical of the D-men as a group, the closer they got to the end the better they too got. Schultz’ O, Cole killing an entire penalty himself a couple of games back.

    And let’s not forget the Architect and the Guru; JR and Sully. No, they didn’t step out on the ice but how big were these guys.

    Thank You Pens

    And Thank You Rick and Phil for guiding us on this ride.

    • June 12, 2017 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

      Hey tOR,

      All the work was Rick, I did nothing. On Rick’s last article “let’s hope History…”, I did less than nothing I avoided it like the plague. Great season Rick, I bet you’re pooped!

      OK tOR, i think you covered the shout outs great, but I really think the defense needs extra praise. They were probably the most beat up defensive crew going into the playoffs.

      Ian Cole led the league in blocked shots with Dumoulin, Hainsey & Maatta not too far behind.

      Even with all of the injuries, they also outscored last years Letang led crew. They also had less give aways than last year. Stick taps to all!

      Oh, and they didn’t lose one face off the entire playoffs.

      • Rick Buker's Gravatar Rick Buker
        June 12, 2017 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

        Hey Phil,

        From operating the business side of the blog to selecting all the great pix, I think you did a little more than nothing, my friend. Thank you for all your support … and great comments, too.

        Frankly, I’m exhausted. I woke up this morning, and my mind was a total blank (perhaps as a result of having a few too many at the Pub last night). I’m not even sure how I managed to cobble together today’s feature, but somehow it came out.

        I cannot, for one moment, fathom how the players endure such a grind. Talk about heart, guts, drive, dedication and resilience! They’re truly remarkable athletes, and I feel so privileged to root for such a great team and great bunch of guys.

        A heartfelt thanks to all of our regular PenguinPoop readers and commenters, Jim, Other Rick, Jayelene, 55 on Point, Pen’s 4ever, Mike…and anyone else I neglected to mention.

        With all your great comments and insights, you provided plenty of inspiration and made this fantastic journey a lot of fun for me, too.

        Still can’t believe we won it all again … 🙂

        God bless one and all,

        Rick

        • Jim's Gravatar Jim
          June 12, 2017 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

          Rick,
          Your the best old man !!
          ( Note to others: We have the same Birth date.)
          The glue that holds everything together.
          So thanks for all your tremendous work and keeping us all on track. God bless you my friend. It has been fun.

          I want to remind all the other ” seniors ” out there, that about October 30 of 2015, we all thought the Penguins should be renamed the Titanic . Remember ??
          It was so bad that Crosby never had more than 2 shots a game and it was more exciting to watch paint dry on a white Pickett fence then have to sit thru a televised Pen’s game.

          Fast forward to June 11, 2017…….What a difference ….
          2 Stanley Cups !! We won one year with no MAF and another year with no Letang….
          If any one had said to any of us that on October 30, 2015, we could do that we would all of called them crazy…..
          But it happened ….Miracles do happen. Why ??
          Because some had the courage to make the hard decisions and play the kids !!!!
          33333333333333333333!

      • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
        June 12, 2017 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

        Hey Phil,

        I agreed, I am grudgingly trying to give the D kudos too. I have lambasted them all season, so it isn’t that easy. Way back in the early 70s, in football, in the era of team defense nicknames; the Steel Curtain, the Fearsome Foursome etc but Miami ruled the NFL one season with a perfect season and a defense nicknamed the No Name Defense. The Pens D got stronger and stronger as the playoffs wore on and in the finals, on the biggest stage the D finally got shot totals under 30 per game. I did appreciate the yeoman’s job Domoulin, Cole, Maatta, Schultz, Hainsey, and Daley (on one leg) did. Particularly Hainsey; it was his first trip to the playoffs in his career and he went the disatnce and although not perfect, he too just got better and better as the games got bigger.


            

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