The Pittsburgh Penguins may be out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but that doesn’t mean our winning ways shouldn’t be heavily represented.
With game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals taking place tonight, it’s interesting to see the level of competition that’s put out onto the ice tonight. It’s even more interesting when you realize three former Pittsburgh Penguins players from our 2009 Cup winning team is represented well among the final three teams. These players are Marc-Andre Fleury, Chris Kunitz and Brooks Orpik.
Marc-Andre Fleury, Vegas Golden Knights
Now we already know the story with Fleury. Drafted first overall in 2003 by the Penguins, Fleury helped backstop us to three Stanley Cups and four Finals appearances. Matt Murray may have done most of the work in the last two Cup wins in 2016 and 2017, but Fleury still made huge contributions.
We unfortunately had to give up Fleury to the Vegas Golden Knights in their expansion draft as we decided to protect the younger Matt Murray, and Fleury has since went on to lead the Golden Knights in their historic season. He has played amazingly in this year’s playoffs, and has backstopped the Knights to their first Stanley Cup Finals in just their inaugural season.
Chris Kunitz, Tampa Bay Lightning
Kunitz was a key piece to our championship winning team in 2009 after we acquired him in a trade with the Ducks that season. Since then he went on to reach 60+ points twice with the Penguins during the 2011-12 and 2013-14 seasons.
Once his contract was up after last season, Kunitz decided to sign with the Tampa Bay Lightning in hopes to chase yet another cup. The Lightning have been a powerhouse this season and Kunitz has been contributing effectively scoring 13 goals and netting 16 assists during the regular season.
So far he’s struggled during this year’s playoffs, potting only one assist in 16 games. However, the Lightning are hoping for him to come clutch when they need him, especially tonight.
Brooks Orpik, Washington Capitals
Brooks Orpik is yet another one of our draft picks who won the Cup with us back in 2009. Orpik was drafted 18th overall in 2000 by the Penguins and played with us all the way through the 2013-14 season. After his contract was up, he signed with the Washington Capitals.
Orpik has since been an effective defenceman for Washington and has been helping hold down their blue-line. This is Washington’s first time moving on to the Conference Finals in the Alex Ovechkin era and they hope Orpik will be on his game tonight to get them to the Stanley Cup Finals.