Pens Defeat Sharks in Six Games to Win Stanley Cup
What a whirlwind season for the Pens. The Penguins were the hottest team since the all-star break and there was no looking back from there. When Mike Sullivan took over this Penguins team, there was a total culture change. Sully was the coach of the Penguins affiliate Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins before he got the call up. GM Jim Rutherford made the right decision by choosing a coach within the organization and knowing which players in the minors could help his team succeed. This is the second time in franchise history that there was a coaching change mid season and went on to win the Stanley Cup. The first time was in 2009 when Dan Bylsma took over for Michel Therrien.
Players such as Conor Sheary, Bryan Rust, and Tom Kühnhackl jumped right into the lineup without any difficulties. They gelled very quickly with the seasoned players on the roster. The off-season acquisitions of Phil Kessel and Nick Bonino ended up paying huge dividends as Kessel led the Penguins in points in the playoffs with 22. Nick Bonino had 18 points. Also, the in season acquisition of Carl Hagelin from the Ducks was huge. Hags is one of the fastest guys in the league and he just added to the already speedy Pens team. Hagelin himself had 16 points in the post season playing along side Bonino and Kessel.
Matt Murray is a whole story on its own. The 22 year old went from being the AHL starter for the Pens farm team, to Stanley Cup champion. You can't make this stuff up. Huge pat on the back to Sully again for sticking with Murray the entire playoffs and not throwing Marc-Andre Fleury back between the pipes when he was healthy again.
Lastly, Sid was Sid, and Malkin was Malkin. These two guys played like their usual selves for most of the playoffs and they both have two rings now. Crosby has cemented himself as one of the best Penguins/players of all time with this championship. Crosby and Malkin are both still in the primes of their careers and could definitely win a third at some point.
Side note: Crosby won the Conn Smythe as the MVP of the playoffs which is a little absurd to me. How it wasn't Phil Kessel or Matt Murray is baffling, but it doesn't matter they all won the cup together.
It's officially the off season. Not much hockey stuff to talk about until the Word Cup of Hockey in August.