WHY THE PITTSBURGH PENGUINS WILL WIN THE STANLEY CUP…
Is a very simple answer. They know how to win, and they know how to do that very well. Even during a darker time when the Pens were without their star center and team captain Sidney Crosby, the Penguins still managed to win games. Their average goals per game (3.19) is better than it has been since the 2006-2007 season where they averaged 3.26.
The reason for that is they have others stepping up to carry the load. Center Jordan Staal is one of the names that comes to mind. Although Staal has missed 20 games this season, he’s still managed 41 points, which just puts him 8 points shy of his career best years that he had in 2008-09 and 2009-10 where he scored 49.
Some people would argue that Crosby isn’t the leader that Pittsburgh needs and could say that the true leadership lies in the hands of Russian phenom Evgeni Malkin. If you’ve ever watched Malkin play, you know that there is talent there, true, unteachable talent. While Malkin isn’t necessarily on pace for a record breaking season, he is still improving every game, every shift. With 10 games remaining, he has already surpassed his career high shots in a season with 300 (currently leads the NHL). A surprising fact may be that Malkin has never reached 50 goals in a season. Hitting that mark may not be too far off though, as he currently sits at 43 and the Pens have 10 games left in the regular season, also taking into consideration the current dominance that the Penguins are showing, I expect Geno to hit the big 5-0 this season.
In the late 2010-2011 campaign, the Penguins acquired James Neal and Matt Niskanen from Dallas in exchange for Defenseman Alex Goligoski. I’m not sure if anyone saw this trade as being one of the greatest trades that the league has potentially seen in the last 5 years. While Niskanen has put up decent numbers and has played well all season, James Neal has shocked the hockey world. Neal has literally blown away his totals from his past 3 seasons. He is at a point-per-game average with 72 points (35g, 37a), + 10, has accrued 74 penalty minutes, been light years more effective on the power play…the list could go on for days. James Neal has been a saving grace for Pittsburgh this year, and will continue to carry on through the playoffs. Guaranteed.
Marc-Andre Fleury has had another sensational year with Pittsburgh. He’s currently sitting atop the league with 39 wins. He’s also sporting a very cool .916 sv% and 2.26 gaa. He’s on pace for his best season he’s played. I think he’s another dire component to Pittsburgh’s winning ways.
Last, and most certainly not least, the return of #87. People claim he’s being “glorified” and has to “earn back” the title of “Best Player in the World”, but in my eyes, he’s doing that and so much more. In the 12 games he has played with Pittsburgh this season, he has 21 points (2g, 19a) and is +14. In his most recent comeback, in 4 games he has 9 assists and is +8. For you to say that Sidney Crosby is not an impact player would be in complete ignorance. You can hate him for your own reasons, but you cannot deny talent. Its not often that a player averages almost 2 points per game. It’s not often that players have multiple point games. He is STILL the best player in the world, like it or not.
Of course there are other players on this team whom have stepped up and helped make things happen for the penguins, but as of right now, these players are playing past expectations. Dan Bylsma should be grinning ear to ear knowing that he’s going to get to hoist another cup this year. He’s done a great job with this team and he will be rewarded for it. I’m sorry that a lot of people aren’t going to like this news, and they say that it’s my opinion, but I have not seen a team look so dominant and so willing to win all season. This version of the Penguins is scary. And they will prove their worth.