The Pittsburgh Penguins are on the brink of history.
But the toughest test is yet to come, as the Pittsburgh Penguins try to win back-to-back Stanley Cups. If they pull it off, they are the first team in the salary-cap era to do so. They are almost there, but here’s why the road through Nashville may be as long as a country mile.
The Long and Winding Road
I suppose I don’t need to belabor the point again, but the Pens have played more games over the last two season than any team in hockey. Factor in World Cup games by star players, and you gotta wonder what holds some of these guys together.
I really thought they might have hit the wall against Ottawa. No offense to the Senators and their fans, but a fresh Pens team would have closed that series out in six games. Like a cold drink of water on a hot summer day, the NHL bestowed a couple extra days rest before the start of the Final series.
Despite the miles of grind, in Game One of the series, I thought the Pens looked as fresh as I have seen them in weeks. I know what some of you are thinking – that the Pens looked in disarray at times, had no shots in the second period, and were supremely lucky to somehow manage a win. All true, no argument – but they did not look slow or tired. To me, that was Part One of the toughest test – passed.
Luck’s Gotta Run out…right?
Puck Luck is a fickle mistress. If you haven’t guessed from my articles, I am a pessimist by nature. I would rather be pleasantly surprised, than unexpectedly disappointed. That said, I’m also an avid Pens fan. So like many fans, I have inner turmoil over the outcome of this series with Nashville.
I know that Game one luck isn’t gonna always be there, so we need to step up our game to take this series. Summoning up the will to do that for every game will be Part Two of the toughest test. It’s a bit easier when you are young and hungry, but hopefully experience will help here.
Lowest Seed? Nah, the toughest test
This series is the supreme test of these Playoffs – and that’s what the Stanley Cup should be. Sure, the Predators squeaked into playoffs. But they finished the season strong, and continued that play into the playoffs. Make no mistake, they deserve to be here. They are fast, strong, young, and seemingly have gotten better throughout the playoffs. Worst of all (for the Pens), they play a very similar style to the Penguins.
The Pens can’t just easily break out and fly past them. They can’t just dump it past the Nashville D and easily regain possession. They can’t even count on pedestrian performances from a Vezina-caliber goalie again. The Pens will need their best to win this one.
They will need star power scoring. They will also need strong role player performances. Yes, they will need the defense to play mistake-free. Truth is, they will need everyone. Every game, every shift. I know, that sounds trite – but for this series, it’s true.
OK, I forced that Clubber Lang quote in there. I should have used it when we were playing Columbus. However, the point is that it will be hard to defeat Nashville.
The Cup is so close we can almost read the names etched in the side again. But for these Penguins to repeat and make history, this last mile will be the toughest one of all.
Let’s Go Pens!