Wow. The Pittsburgh Penguins have won 7 straight games to open the playoffs. 10 times in NHL history a team has opened 7-0. Eight of those teams went on to win the Stanley Cup.
That's a great omen for Pittsburgh. I must admit, I didn't think they'd be this good. I figured they'd eventually face some adversity (I thought that adversity would come in the form of the New York Rangers) and they would have to suffer the same disappointment that most NHL champions have to go through.
But the Penguins keep on marching. Marc-Andre Fleury has been better than I expected. The blue liners have been better than everyone expected. Players on every line are chipping in in ways they're not normally associated with - bangers scoring goals, scorers banging bodies. It is pretty much the perfect mix, and we haven't even mentioned the names of superstars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin yet.
At this stage it is tough to see anyone stopping them, especially in the East.
I couldn't agree more. I'm biased, because I'm a die-hard Penguins fan, but I think even an objective evaluation is they're playing an amazing brand of hockey. On a Pens blog, I put it this way (and am only repeating it because it seems apt; I don't need and can't use kudos from anybody that could read this; am only repeating it because it seems true):
The Penguins are playing transcendent hockey right now. Nothing fazes them. Nothing bothers them. Shift after shift, they abide, endure, overcome, recover, take over – whatever the situation calls for. Obviously it’s not each player, each shift, but overall.
It looks as if each of them, making eye contact, immediately tell one another that they will do whatever it takes to win for one another. There’s no hesitation on this team right now, no questioning, no doubt. This is as dangerous a hockey team as you could ever see, right now. It’s beautiful, brutal stuff.
I would contend that what has generated that 7-0 record has been the Penguins' ability to adapt to and thrive under different modes/styles of play. In the Rangers series, for instance, they have been successful (a) playing from behind and in the lead, and (b) playing an offensively-charged game and a tight/defensive game.
The story of these playoffs, as far as the Pens are concerned, has not been the play of Sidney or Evgeni, but rather the fact that they are able to roll all four lines, and the fact that Fleury has been superb in net.
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