GAME 6

BRIDGE­STONE ARENA JUNE 11, 2017

The Hockey News - - The First Word -

THE PITTS­BURGH PEN­GUINS

stood at cen­ter ice of Bridge stone Arena, barely mus­ter­ing the strength to lift a 35-pound tro­phy over their heads. They were more relieved than happy, a phys­i­cally and men­tally drained group who could not pos­si­bly get their heads around the mag­ni­tude of what they had just ac­com­plished. They es­tab­lished them­selves as one of the NHL’s all-time great teams, win­ning the Cup not once, but twice in an era when re­peat­ing is more dif­fi­cult than ever. There’s a rea­son why the Detroit Red Wings were the last team to do it 19 years ago. As great as the Chicago Black­hawks and Los Angeles Kings have been, they never did it. No team had done it in the salary cap era, and you could ar­gue no team over­came more ad­ver­sity to win than these Pen­guins. “We met on Day 1 of camp and the first thing I said was, ‘Ev­ery­body is telling us we can’t do it. His­tory is telling us, all the ex­perts are telling us we can’t re­peat,’ ” said coach Mike Sul­li­van. “And my chal­lenge to them was, ‘Why not?’ We weren’t go­ing to let any­one else write our story. These guys wanted to write the story them­selves, and they did it.” With their best de­fense­man out and a six-man group that was run­ning on fumes, the Pens man­aged to get it done against a de­fense corps that is un­par­al­leled in the NHL. All Pitts­burgh’s ‘D’ did was not al­low a goal in the fi­nal two games of the Cup fi­nal (al­beit there’s lit­tle doubt Colton Sis­sons’ sec­ond-pe­riod goal, blown dead pre­ma­turely by ref­eree Kevin Pol­lock, should’ve counted). The Pen­guins won with a Conn Smythe Tro­phy per­for­mance from Sid­ney Crosby, the best player in the world and a player who, in GM Jim Ruther­ford’s opinion, now has to be con­sid­ered among the top three or four players of all-time.

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