If you haven't seen the news or are too busy focusing on the NBA Finals, then you would have missed the Pittsburgh Penguins dominate. The victory for the Penguins was a long time coming. Yet, again, Sidney Crosby held Lord Stanley's Cup over his head for the city of Pittsburgh to see while receiving the Conn Smythe trophy for league MVP.
In December, the Pittsburgh Penguins looked like their season was already at an end. The franchise was ranked horribly, they didn't play well together, and the coaching was questionable. Shortly after, the Pittsburgh Penguin's let go of their head coach in the middle of the season and brought up the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Under head coach Mike Johnston, the Penguins were in disarray, but when coach Mike Sullivan took over, they became a different team. But that kind of turnaround isn't just from systems and line combinations. It happens because players feel they belong, and they feel they belong because their leaders make them feel so.
In the race for the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs, the Penguins had to face many top teams, that the Western conference didn't have. The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the New York Rangers in a 4–1 series, the President's Cup trophy winners and best team in the regular season, the Washington Capitals 4–2, and the Tampa Bay Lightning 4–3, to win the Eastern Conference Championship, advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals against the San Jose Sharks. With Sunday night's 3-1 win, over the San Jose Sharks, the Penguins skated their way to another championship, the first since 2009. The time between 2009, when the Penguins raised their first Cup of the Crosby era, and Sunday night might have appeared at times to be unfathomable for Crosby and the franchise.
This win was a well-deserved win. After the major change in coaching, the teams roster majorly changed. Many trades were made since Mike Sullivan (former player for the San Jose Sharks) was brought up, as well as one player being left go for medical issues. Six younger players, names that had never been heard, were brought up by the coaching staff and have landed in our hearts, as well as on the scoreboard. Conor Sheary, Tom Kuhnhackl and Scott Wilson all joined the NHL club shortly after Christmas, and they brought with them a new kind of hunger. Two rookies, Conor Sheary and Bryan Rust, who scored critical goals in each game as well as the glove of Matt Murray brought the energy needed to the Penguins to lead them to the Finals.
This championship falls on the exact same day seven years prior to when the Penguins hoisted the cup over their heads, only adding to the hype. The Stanley cup, brought by the saves of the first string goalie, Matt Murray, who for the first time this year saw playoff ice, took the Penguins to the Stanley Cup while only missing three games. Murray, who truly stepped in goal only after Marc-Andre Fleury was injured again the Philadelphia Fliers in the regular season, played as if he was a veteran to the playoffs. Murray, who turned 22 during the playoffs, missed three games himself during the playoffs partially due to an injury and Fluery being ready to come back, but not long after hitting the ice as the main goalie.
This championship should've been seen way back in March when the had the most wins and most point for the whole month. The Penguins took back being known as a team willing to fight for something bigger than themselves. This the Penguins 4th win, all with the help of Mario Lemieux either as a co-owner or as a player. Now, since I am a Pittsburgh fan who lives in Pittsburgh, please excuse me as I go out and celebrate!