It was a back and forth series with everything on the line, and the Pittsburgh Penguins got the job done once again. Their six game Stanley Cup Final victory over the San Jose Sharks not only brought another championship to the city of Pittsburgh, but cemented legacies and vaulted one of the best players in this era of the NHL to new heights, confirming his status as one of the game’s true legends.
Pittsburgh Penguins Start Strong
As with playoff series in every sport, stealing the advantage that comes with being at home is paramount to a team’s success. In the Stanley Cup Final, the Pittsburgh Penguins did just that, taking both of the opening two games of the series held in San Jose. This gave the Penguins a tremendous advantage coming home for the next two games of the series, as they gave themselves a margin for error to the point that they could afford to lose once at home and still have home ice advantage for the rest of the series. They say that a series is not over until a team loses a game at home, and the Penguins made the argument that this series was over after just two contests.
In the second of those two games, with the score tied at one goal apiece, a legendary bit of leadership by Sidney Crosby helped to lift the Penguins to victory. In the overtime period, Crosby called a set play to create an opening for the game winning goal, one that worked to absolute perfection. From there, all the Penguins had to do was ride that momentum into two more victories, which is exactly what they did en route to winning the Stanley Cup.
— NHL (@NHL) June 16, 2016
Sidney Crosby Becomes A Legend
Already considered one of the best players in the NHL, Sidney Crosby has faced a lot of scrutiny in his career for the way he has handled recovering from injuries. In this Stanley Cup Final, though, he silenced his doubters and proved that he is not only one of the best players in the NHL right now, but one of the best players in the history of the league due to his combination of leadership and execution when his team needed it the most.
The set play mentioned previously will forever serve as an example of just how well Crosby understands the game at the NHL level and how that understanding can shift the outcome of games even during the Stanley Cup Final. Beyond that, this is Crosby’s second Stanley Cup, taking him from one cup, which his detractors would argue was just a fluke unless he added another, to a trend brought about by a truly great player.
It will be interesting to see how both of these teams respond to the outcome of this series next season, and even before that when building next year’s teams through personnel decisions. One thing is for certain, though, and that is the fact that the Pittsburgh Penguins were deserving champions by virtue of their convincing performance in this year’s Stanley Cup Final.
By: Jason Sanin