Sunday, June 12, 2016

Pittsburgh Penguins: 2016 Stanley Cup Champions



Who needs a goal on the statistical ledger when you win a Stanley Cup?

There’s another addition to Sidney Crosby’s championship legacy in the form of the Pittsburgh Penguins' fourth Stanley Cup title.

The Elias Sports Bureau’s research shows that Crosby is the third skater to win the Conn Smythe despite not scoring a goal in the Stanley Cup finals -- joining Scott Niedermayer of the Ducks in 2007 and Jonathan Toews with the Blackhawks in 2010. All three were captains of their respective teams.

Crosby has two titles, the same number as Penguins owner Mario Lemieux. He has won five championships overall, including two Olympic gold medals and the 2015 world championship. He also has the same number of professional titles as LeBron James.

The history

This is the Penguins' first title since 2009 (which they also won on June 12). All four have been won on the road. The Penguins’ four titles are tied with the Red Wings for the most since 1991, the year of the Penguins' first championship. The Penguins are 4-0 in games in which they had a chance to clinch the Cup on the road.

Among teams to debut since the NHL’s first expansion in 1967-68, the only team with more Stanley Cup titles is the Oilers with five, all between 1984 and 1990.

The goalie

Penguins goalie Matt Murray went 6-0 immediately after a loss this postseason. Elias Sports Bureau research shows that his 15 wins match the most by a rookie goalie in a single postseason and that he’s the seventh rookie goalie to win all four games during the Stanley Cup finals, the first since Cam Ward in 2006.

The best support

Crosby won the Conn Smythe, but Phil Kessel was also one of the Penguins' top players. Kessel was traded from the Maple Leafs in a six-player deal after being much maligned in Toronto.

His sister, Amanda, was not going to play her senior season at Minnesota after suffering a concussion. But things changed for the family. Amanda returned in February and scored the game-winning goal in the national championship at the Frozen Four. She won three national titles at Minnesota.

Kessel’s season turned on March 13 when he joined a line with Carl Hagelin and Nick Bonino. He led the Penguins with 10 goals and 22 points in 24 postseason games.

To top it off, on May 1, Amanda signed a one-year deal with the New York Riveters of the NWHL (National Women’s Hockey League) worth $26,000, making her the top-paid player in the league.

How they won

The story of the series was how the Penguins limited the Sharks' opportunities. The Sharks had 67 shot attempts in Game 6 and the Penguins blocked 33 of them. The Penguins blocked 136 shots in the series, an average of 23 per game.
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