June 12, 2017

Pittsburgh Wins The 2017 Stanley Cup Championship

The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Nashville Predators 2-0 in a thrilling game six to win the 2017 Stanley Cup!

The game featured amazing goaltending at both ends of the ice, as Nashville's Pekka Rinne and Pittsburgh's Matt Murray were nothing short of spectacular.

The game certainly had some great scoring chances. Yet with each remarkable save, the game grew more and more tense. Desperate even. It was Stanley Cup hockey at it's best.

Late in the third period Pittsburgh managed to kill off a 5-on-3 power play before Patric Hornqvist banged a puck off Rinne's arm with just 1:35 to play in regular to break the tension and the scoreless tie. Carl Hagelin added an an empty netter to ensure the victory.

Greatness Achieved

With Pittsburgh's victory we have a true modern-day dynasty led by one of the top players of all time.  I love greatness. Sidney Crosby is the greatest player of the current generation, and his team winning back-to-back Stanley Cups (and 3 in 9 years in the salary cap era) only confirms his spot in history.  

When the NHL celebrates their 200th anniversary, they will still talk about Sidney Crosby. We are so lucky to see him in this moment. He is truly a player of destiny.

What an amazing season he had. It started with him leading Canada to a World Cup victory, complete with MVP honours. He led all NHL players in goal scoring, winning his second Rocket Richard trophy. Now of course he won his third Stanley Cup and second Conn Smythe Trophy. And next week he might just add the Hart Trophy and Ted Lindsay award to his list of accomplishments this season.

All this while overcoming a couple more concussion scares. Crosby's place in hockey history was assured with or without this Stanley Cup victory. And since the stark the difference in eras has made Wayne Gretzky's scoring totals unattainable, Crosby has nothing left to approve.

Sorry Nashville fans. 

I feel for you. I really do. You proved yourself to be the best in the league. You earned the respect of everyone in hockey. You deserved better.

But, as a jaded, old and desperate Vancouver fan, I'm glad you did not get to experience the thrill of victory. Yet, anyway.

It's stupid, I know. But I want others in the league to understand the hurt. The pain. The despair. Now you understand. I hope you come to quickly appreciate this amazing team and amazing playoff run, much like I did in 1982 and 1994 and never have in 2011.

Agony is a part of being a sports fan.  I sincerely hope you win a Stanley Cup championship in your life time. I have to come to realize I will never see one in Vancouver in mine.

Morning Skate

Here's all the news and notes from the NHL's Morning Skate media release.

* The Penguins won their fifth Stanley Cup (also 1991, 1992, 2009 and 2016) – tied for the most by any non-Original Six team (w/ EDM). All of Pittsburgh’s Stanley Cup victories have come on the road – all since 1991, the most in the NHL in that span.
Stanley Cup Standings, NHL History
24 – Montreal Canadiens^
13 – Toronto Maple Leafs
11 – Detroit Red Wings
6 – Boston Bruins
6 – Chicago Blackhawks
5 – Edmonton Oilers
5 – Pittsburgh Penguins
The Canadiens won one Stanley Cup prior to the formation of the NHL in 1917-18
* The Penguins, who defeated the Sharks in six games in last year’s Final, became the first team to repeat as Stanley Cup champions since the Red Wings in 1997 and 1998. Prior to Detroit, the last NHL club to repeat was Pittsburgh in 1991 and 1992.
* The Penguins improved to 5-1 with the chance to clinch the Stanley Cup, including a perfect 5-0 record on the road. Elias says that no other NHL, NBA or MLB team is undefeated with at least five championship-clinching opportunities as visitors.
* In the Second Round at WSH, the Penguins improved to 6-0 in Game 7s on the road – also the best such record among all major pro sports franchises.
* At 18:25, Hornqvist became the third player to score a Stanley Cup-clinching goal in the final two minutes of regulation (all on the road). The others: Boston’s Bill Carson in 1929 (18:02 of Game 2 at NYR) and Chicago’s Dave Bolland in 2013 (19:01 of Game 6 at BOS).
* Hornqvist, who was acquired from the Predators in a draft-day trade on June 27, 2014, totaled 106-110—216 in 363 regular-season games with Nashville from 2008-14. He ranks sixth in franchise history in goals and 15th in points.
Captain Sidney Crosby, who led the Stanley Cup Final with 1-6—7 and ranked second during the entirety of the postseason with 8-19—27 (24 GP), won his second straight Conn Smythe Trophy, awarded to “the most valuable player to his team in the playoffs.” The winner was selected in a vote by a panel of the Professional Hockey Writers Association
* Crosby became the sixth multiple winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy since it was first handed out in 1965 and the third to win it in consecutive seasons, joining Philadelphia’s Bernie Parent (1974 and 1975) and Pittsburgh’s Mario Lemieux (1991 and 1992).
* Crosby’s past 365 days include a pair of Stanley Cups and Conn Smythe Trophies as well as a World Cup of Hockey championship and MVP. He also captured the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy during the 2016-17 regular season with a League-best 44 goals, and is a finalist for both the Hart Memorial Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award – which will be handed out during the 2017 NHL Awards presented by T-Mobile on Wednesday, June 21.
* Crosby joins Chicago’s Jonathan Toews (2010, 2013 and 2015) as the only active players to captain their teams to three Stanley Cups.
Matt Murray made 27 saves to record his second straight shutout and win his second Stanley Cup in as many NHL seasons.
* No other goaltender in League history has won the Stanley Cup-clinching game in each of his first two seasons. In fact, only one other netminder – the Islanders’ Roland Melanson – captured the trophy in each of his first two NHL campaigns. Melanson did so in his first three seasons (1981, 1982 and 1983), but primarily served as the backup to teammate Billy Smith.
* Via Elias, Murray became the fourth goaltender in NHL history to post consecutive shutouts to win the Stanley Cup – and the first to do so for a team other than the Red Wings. Detroit achieved the feat in 1937 (Earl Robertson vs. NYR), 1943 (Johnny Mowers vs. BOS) and 1952 (Terry Sawchuk vs. MTL).
* Murray stopped 64 straight shots to close the Stanley Cup Final, yielding his last goal at 13:08 of the second period in Game 4 – a span of 146:26 of time on ice.
Matt Murray, Career Playoff Statistics
2016 (21 GP): 15-6, 2.08 GAA, .923 SV%, 1 SO
2017 (11 GP): 7-3, 1.70 GAA, .937 SV%, 3 SO
Total (32 GP): 22-9, 1.95 GAA, .928 SV%, 4 SO 
Forward Chris Kunitz – who shared first place with six assists during the Final – won his fourth Stanley Cup, the most among active players (following his victories with Anaheim in 2007 and Pittsburgh in 2009 and 2016). Kunitz became the first player to achieve the feat since 2008, when Detroit’s Kris DraperTomas HolmstromNicklas LidstromKirk Maltby and Darren McCarty all earned their fourth.
* Kunitz is one of five Penguins players who have won each of the last three Stanley Cups with the team (2009, 2016 and 2017). The others: Sidney CrosbyMarc-Andre FleuryKris Letang and Evgeni Malkin.
* Forward Matt Cullen also captured his third Stanley Cup, adding to his victories with Carolina in 2006 and Pittsburgh in 2016.
Active Players w/ 3+ Stanley Cups
Sidney Crosby (2009, 2016 and 2017 w/ PIT)
Matt Cullen (2006 w/ CAR, 2016 and 2017 w/ PIT)
Marc-Andre Fleury (2009, 2016 and 2017 w/ PIT)
Niklas Hjalmarsson (2010, 2013 and 2015 w/ CHI)
Marian Hossa (2010, 2013 and 2015 w/ CHI)
Patrick Kane (2010, 2013 and 2015 w/ CHI)
Duncan Keith (2010, 2013 and 2015 w/ CHI)
Chris Kunitz (2007 w/ ANA, 2009, 2016 and 2017 w/ PIT)^
Kris Letang (2009, 2016 and 2017 w/ PIT)
Evgeni Malkin (2009, 2016 and 2017 w/ PIT)
Brent Seabrook (2010, 2013 and 2015 w/ CHI)
Patrick Sharp (2010, 2013 and 2015 w/ CHI)
Jonathan Toews (2010, 2013 and 2015 w/ CHI)
Justin Williams (2006 w/ CAR, 2012 and 2014 w/ LAK)
Only active player with four Stanley Cups
Marshfield, Mass., native Mike Sullivan – who also guided Pittsburgh to the championship in 2016 – became the first U.S.-born head coach in the NHL’s 100-year history to win multiple Stanley Cups.
Only six other U.S.-born head coaches have won the Stanley Cup, including Nashville’s Peter Laviolette (2006 w/ CAR). This marked the first Stanley Cup Final with opposing U.S.-born head coaches.
Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne (27 SV) finished the playoffs with a 9-2 record, 1.40 goals-against average and .951 save percentage on home ice . . . Penguins forward Jake Guentzel totaled 13-8—21 (25 GP), tied for the most points by a rookie in one playoff y

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