Monday, May 19, 2008

All Is Right In The Eastern Conference

The universe has finally righted itself and after a brisk 14 games the Pittsburgh Penguins have taken back their rightful spot atop the Eastern Conference. I have to say that the path the Pens took to the top of the East could not have been sweeter either. Let's reflect for just a second...

  • Round 1 - Annihilating the Ottawa Senators in 4 games and getting revenge on the team that took them out behind the proverbial woodshed in last season's playoffs.
  • Round 2 - Dispatching Jaromir Jagr and the rest of the Penguins alumni squad that not calls themselves the New York Rangers.
  • Round 3 - Eliminating the rival Flyers in near perfect fashion, culminating in the 6-0 series clincher on home ice.
Back on top, where they belong!

Not looking past the fact that there is still one more round to go, I can't resist the opportunity to look back on what was a dominating romp through the East for the Penguins. Here are a few of my observations on the first 3 rounds:
  • The Flyers and their fans can make all the injury excuses they want, but except for the 3 goals the refs gift-wrapped for them in the first period of game 4, they were never in their series against the Pens. It was not nearly as close as the 4-1 result would lead you to believe.
  • Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin get most of the press, but Marc-Andre Fleury and Sergei Gonchar have been the Penguins two most consistent and arguably best performers this post-season.
  • Jordan Staal has gotten better and better as the Pens have gotten deeper into the playoffs. Anyone who would complain about his drop in scoring during the regular season just does not get what hockey is about.
  • Where have all the people bashing the Pascal Dupuis Marian Hossa trade gone?
  • Ryan Malone and Marc-Andre Fleury have both made themselves a fortune in the last six weeks.
  • Every single player on the Penguins has performed their role perfectly. Knowledgeable hockey people realize how valuable guys like Tyler Kennedy and Max Talbot have been in Pittsburgh's run to the Finals.
Well, the Red Wings just (finally) finished off the Stars. So now we know who our new enemy is. Nothing in the world could make me happier than to see the Pens beat the Wings in the Finals. Nothing. This is going to be unreal. The ghosts of '96 have been exorcised! Strap in Pens fans, there's four more miles to go to the promised land!

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