Danny Bailey – Staff Writer
That’s right; I am calling it right now. The Penguins will go back to back this year due to two reasons: depth and discipline.
Although Sidney Crosby has had a stellar year in the goal scoring department, he may not be the reason the Pens will win the cup again. The real underlying reason is the same one that got them the cup last year and that is depth.
For a good majority of the season, Pittsburgh had been missing key players but managed to find themselves in the No. 2 seed in the eastern conference. To emphasized how scary this team is, they finished seventh in the regular season in the east with a pretty healthy squad all throughout the season. This year they missed Crosby, Carl Hagelin, Kris Letang, Trevor Daley, Bryan Rust and many more and still found a way to beat top teams. This team produces scoring from all four lines. On top of that, they are considerably young.
The second reason they are winning the cup is, again, the same lesson they taught the league last year, and that is discipline. A few years ago, all you had to do to beat the Pens was to get under its skin, hit them around a little and just be annoying. Sooner or later they would retaliate and deviate from its style to get physical. That strategy was very effective for other teams.
Last year and this year, they simply could not care less. The best examples are Joe Thornton- Crosby incident last year during the finals. The Pens were up in the final series and San Jose was clearly frustrated with the Pens speed style. Since San Jose (and really most of the western conference) plays a harder, physical style, they tried hitting the Pens until they gave up. After a battle for the puck in the corner, Thornton was able to win and clear the puck out of his zone, and then decided to crosscheck Crosby in the back and then punch Crosby in the head. Crosby, unfazed by the scenario, kept of skating and being his usual G.O.A.T. self.
Another example of its discipline and commitment to not responding is this current series with Columbus. The Blue Jackets have spent so much time getting physical and outhitting the Pens, but they just don’t seem to mind. They just let Columbus hit them until they get tired, and then the Pens take advantage of the rest of the time remaining.
A great example this series was after Game 2. The Pens were dominating and winning and Matt Calvert was looking to get his team invested into the game so he took it upon himself to cross-check (and break his stick) over the Tom Kuhnhackl’s back/lower neck and as Rust was lowering from the pain, Calvert then swung around to lay a hit on Kuhnhackl, which he later got suspended for. The Pens just continued doing what they do and proceeded to win the next two games.
Long story short, the Pens are winning the cup again and “Crapitals” fans can deal with it.