Saturday, June 13, 2009

Pittsburgh pulls it off, Penguins are Champs

The Penguins do what few others (excluding the Nugman) thought they could, and pulled off a tough road victory in Game 7 to win the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1992. Let the "is Pittsburgh titletown USA?" garbage start at ESPN.

I would comment more on the game....but I watched all of 2 minutes. (Though they were an entertaining 2 minutes) I would claim to be happy about picking the penguins...but I'm not. I didn't really want to see the penguins win....and I didn't want to see the Redwings win...I wanted the Rangers to win. Anything else just seems like a complete travesty and a crime against humanity.

Some quick takes on the game, and future outlook for these teams:

- Evgeni Malkin proved what many have long speculated but rarely talked about, in winning the Conn Smythe as the playoff MVP, people might finally start giving him credit for actually being BETTER than crosby. If I had to rank the best players in the NHL right now, it goes 1) ovechkin, 2) malkin, 3) crosby....and I might have to reconsider crosby at 3, but he is absolutely top 5. But I have no doubts about 1 and 2. Crosby, who had very little impact on the finals, actually only played ONE shift after leaving during the second period after taking a hard hit. Gotta be kind of bitter sweet to have your team win the cup without you contributing all that much.

- Detroit will be fine. They have a great, deep team, and heading into next season will probably still be the best team in the NHL. The best team doesn't always win, it happens, and they were a little too old/injured to deal with a great team in pittsburgh.

- Pittsburgh will be....a dynasty? No team in the NHL is set to be incredibly competitive over the next 5 years, like the penguins, except MAYBE the capitals. With Staal, Crosby, Malkin and I believe Fleury all locked up, they have a young, incredibly talented, playoff tested group, that will now have the swagger of being defending champions. Fleury delivered a big Game 7 performance, following a strong Game 6, which he should be able to draw on for years to come, and the penguins can honestly say they won a cup without crosby at his best. It's really an awful feeling. As good as I felt about the Giants after they beat the patriots, is EXACTLY how I feel about the penguins.

After the Giants won the superbowl, most "experts" picked them to go 7-9, to miss the playoffs (despite having made it the previous 3 years, something only one other NFC team had done, now 4 years, the longest streak in the NFC), and annointed them a fluke.....because they were stupid. They didn't look at how young the giants were at so many key positions. Specifically a dominant young defense, a mix of young and veteran receiving core, a YOUNG, Super Bowl MVP QB. Everything about the Giants said, this team may not be the BEST in the NFC, but they will be one of the top 2 or 3 teams in the NFC for 4-5 years to come. First year results? 12-4 and 1 seed in the NFC.

The penguins, it's the same thing. They may not be the best in the NHL, but I do feel they are absolutely the favorite in the east, if they are not the best in the east, they are at least a top 2-3 team for the next 4-5 years, and come playoff time, they have arguably 2 of the top 3 players in the league to put up some big games and make a hard push for the cup. They now have a proven, championship goalie. I hate to say it, but anyone that bets against pittsburgh winning the east next year is making a VERY poor bet....and it doesn't look good for the rangers, or their fans, who are tied to a team that has more money locked up than the current defending champs.

- How rare was pittsburgh's game 7 win? Now this stat is according to espn, so who knows how accurate it really is. But they claim the Penguins are the first team to win on the road in Game 7, in MLB/NHL/NBA combined, since 1979! (Now I know a couple of NY baseball teams that lost home championship series Game 7's in the last few years, so I have to assume this stat is only for the World Series, Stanley Cup Finals, and NBA finals) 18 tries. 18 teams had gone on the road in those 3 sports for Game 7, and lost all 18 before Pittsburgh pulled out tonight's victory.

- Pittsburgh is now the first city to win the Stanley Cup, the same season after winning the NFL title (first ever to win it after a super bowl) since Detroit in, 55 years.

Let the off season officially begin. I am sure DP will have his take on the finals, I wait eagerly for him to provide the closure so we can all look forward to a short offseason of Sather Antics.

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