With the game 7 win over the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings the Pittsburgh Penguins lifted their first trophy in 17 years giving the city their second championship in a year. Prior to the presentation of the Cup, Evgeni Malkin was awarded the Conn Smythe trophy as the MVP of the playoffs notching 36 points to lead all scorers.
It will be interesting to see how this trophy plays out at the leagues award ceremony on June 18th with Malkin being up for the Hart.
Malkin is the first ever Russian born player to collect the honor and second Penguin after Mario Lemieux raised it twice in the last two cup wins. He along with fellow comrades Sergei Gonchar and Ruslan Fedentenko are the latest Russians/Ukrainians to get their names etched on the cup. For both Malkin and Gonchar this is their first cup in their careers with Gonchar having played since 1994.
Fedentenko’s name is already on hockey’s holy grail as he won it with Tampa Bay in 2004. It will be interesting to see where the players choose to bring the cup on their day with it during the summer.
With the next meaningful hockey game about 3.5 months away updates will be few and far but do stay tuned as July 1st marks another year of the free-agency frenzy which will be monitored closely by all of us here. We leave you now with CBC’s playoff montage found below.
It seems like everything that happened this year was a waste of time as the same two teams from last year face off once again for the first rematch between the same teams in 25 years. In case you didn’t know this year will feature Detroit and Pittsburgh.
The new and improved Penguins take on the defending cup holders Red Wings who look to become the first team to win back-to-back cups since they themselves did in 1997 and 1998.
The Penguins come into the match-up with the most goals for and against with the Wings with second most. Marian Hossa will be under the microscope as he jumped ship from Pittsburgh to win a cup with Detroit. He will either look like a genius or a fool depending on the outcome.
Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby will be prominent players in the series as they are tied for most points in the playoffs. If the Penguins win the cup the Conn Smyth will go to the highest scorer overall as there is really nothing to set the two young guns apart.
Looking by position everything seems pretty even from the crease to the top lines. It is known that Pavel Datsyuk and Kris Draper will miss game 1(Tonight 8pm NBC) to injuries and their absence could prove dividend if they do not return soon.
I am alright at making predictions and as much as I like Malkin and young players I dont see them beating the Wings anytime soon. Wings in 6.
Russians in the mix-Malkin, Fedetenko, Gonchar, Datsyuk
After becoming the 21st team in NHL history to overcome a 3-1 series deficit, the Washington Capitals head back to the second round for the first time in 11 years. Alex Ovechkin and company meet a familiar foe in round two as they welcome the fourth seeded Pittsburgh Penguins. Led by Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby the Penguins Capitals match-up sees two of the league’s faces go head to head in a series which might go 7 games.
Crosby vs Ovechkin, Ovechkin vs Malkin, Semin vs Crosby, the Russian 5 vs the Russian duo, the headlines are endless with this series as not only do the NHL’s brigthest stars go head to head but Russia’s as well. It was not too long ago that Ovechkin and Malkin were feuding before Ilya Kovalchuk intervened at the all-star game in Montreal resulting in this kiss and make up moment.
Now the two players who are nominated for the league’s MVP and who will no doubt be featured in Russia’s roster come 2010 in Vancouver will go toe-to-toe on the biggest stage of their NHL careers thus far. Not to mention Malkin’s teammate Crosby has been critical of Ovechkin’s cheap shots with the players having to be separated in a game back in February. Who can forget the now infamous “what’s so special about Crosby?” line by Alexander Semin.
The NHL’s dream match up has specfically been delayed to start tomorrow so it can be broadcasted on national televsion (NBC 1 pm).
Both teams have plenty of fire power with the usual suspects as well as Viktor Kozlov, Sergei Fedorov, Niklas Backstrom, Ruslan Fedetenko, Tyler Kennedy etc. Both blue lines feature prominent players such as Mike”time to wake up” Green for the Caps and Sergei”hey remember me?”Gonchar who was tops in ice time last round.
The battle between the pipes will be interesting as rookie sensation Simeon Varlamov(who I hear might pay top ruble for this domain) will take on Marc-Andre Fleury who only had to stand on his head in round 1 against the Flyers. Fleury is the key to the Penguins success having led them to the Cup last year while Varlamov still has under 12 games in his pro career.
Caps in 7
Russians in the mix: Wash-Fedorov, Kozlov, Ovechkin, Semin, Varlamov Pitt:Gonchar, Fedetenko, Malkin