It was eight days ago that we watched and celebrated the Penguins winning their second consecutive Stanley Cup Championship, their third one in nine years, and the fifth time in their history that they have done so.
The One and Only Sid!
A Familiar Pose
I don't want any more time to elapse before I write about this victory, and the exquisite torture, as I termed it, that were these Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Round One, Pens over Blue Jackets. The Pens won this series in five games, and as I watched this series unfold, I was impressed with how well the Pens were able to control the puck and keep it inside the blue line for extended periods of time. I'm no expert, I said to myself, but this is pretty good team.
Round 2, Pens over Capitals. It took seven games, but when the Pens continued their playoff mastery over the Caps (9-1 in Playoffs series in their history), I was thoroughly delighted. If this was as far as the Pens playoffs journey went, I would have been satisfied just to see the smug Washington media (not to mention Ovie and Barry Trotz-Trotz-Trotz) have to eat it. Yeah, that means you, Michael Wilbon! One Washington based podcast that I listen to made mention that while everyone in Washington hates Sydney Crosby, if you asked Caps' fans who they would rather have on their team, Ovechkin or Crosby, fully 90% of them would say Crosby.
Round 3, Pens over Senators. It was during this series that I coined the term "exquisite torture". These games were so close and so tense, and the fear that they could turn on a dime with each rush of the puck, that it made it hard to watch. That Game 7 went into double overtime only reinforced the drama and tension. Thank you, Chris Kunitz, for ending the exquisite torture that night.
Finals, Pens over Predators. Because we were away on vacation, I saw very little of this series. Saw the first period of Game 1, and the second and third periods of Game 2, when the Pens scored three times in just a few minutes at the beginning of the third period to win that one while on board the Disney Wonder. Missed both Games 3 and 4, thankfully, saw half of the Game 5 blowout, and missed not a single minute of that wonderful Game 6, which consisted of 58:25 minutes of even more exquisite torture before Patric Hornqvist lit the lamp that led to the victory and the Championship.
No mention of these Playoffs can be made without mention of this guy, Marc-Andre Fleury.
Pressed into service twenty minutes before Game 1 of the opening series due to a pre-game warm-up injury to Matt Murray, Fleury responded heroically. He played in goal for all of the Columbus and Washington series, and into the Ottawa series. He won nine games, before ceding the nets to Murray in that series. To say that there would be no Cup championship without him in 2017 is not overstating the matter in the least.
He was the third player to hoist the Cup in the on-ice celebrations, and his handing it over to Murray was one of the most poignant and symbolic moments of that night.
Fluery is currently the longest tenured player on the team, a three time Stanley Cup winner, yet all knew that he was being supplanted by Matt Murray, and that this would no doubt be his last hurrah with the Pens. The post playoffs reactions and comments by all of his teammates make you realize just what he has meant to the Penguins over the course of his thirteen years here, and what a terrific teammate he has been. I can't wait to see the reception that he will get when he makes his first visit to PPG Paints Arena with another team, probably the Las Vegas expansion team. He will be one visitor who will be greeted with a standing ovation from both the crowd and his ex-team.
So hail to the Penguins, and a special thank you to Marc-Andre Fleury. What a great ride they gave us.