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Can the Penguins win a third Cup in a row?

Can the Penguins win a third Cup in a row? I will go further and say it is possible that they could win four in a row. This does not mean that I am not aware of the difficulties with winning three let alone four. What I am aware of is the luck the Pittsburgh Penguins had over a decade ago.

When you at the Stanley Cup winners and their rosters of the past decade, only one team stands out and they are the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins have without a doubt the two best players in the league for over a decade. Sorry Ovie, you were never one or two. As much as I like Jonathan Toews, he is not one of the five best players in the league. We hear Patrick Kane, Carey Price, and Erik Karlsson but they have their limitations. Kane cannot take over games like Malkin can, though, I am sure Blackhawks fans would disagree.

For most of Crosby and Malkin’s career, teams had to deal with two lines. Only Penguins poor coaching hurt these two, not to mention David Steckel’s hit to Crosby’s head that took him out for over a year. Talk about poor officiating. I guess Victor Hedman had a part in it, too. Correcting the coaching situation after six seasons, the Penguins appeared to play as a team people expected to see when Bylsma was coaching. The point is the Penguins have two of the best offensive players playing on their team.

When you look at the past Stanley Cup winners, they simply do not have two. Chicago has Patrick Kane. What did Los Angeles and Boston have? Detroit only won the Cup because of a very young and inexperienced Penguins team. The Wings were a veteran team that ran circles around the young whippersnappers. Of the teams that lost in the finals, there are no outstanding players. Joe Thornton is on the downside, Henrik Lundqvist is also at the tail end of his career. In fact, goalies are limited in the fact they are a defense only even though Pekka Rinne may want to argue that.

If we look at the Leafs or Oilers, they have a player each that will be the next great players. Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews are only one player on their team. After these two, most people will find it difficult to name another star player let alone another player at all. Patrick Kane is all alone on the Hawks. Ovie has shown that having good talent around you doesn’t win cups. Having a great offensive defenseman like Erik Karlsson hasn’t won Ottawa the cup. Carey Price of Montreal is only one man. No, there is no team with two great players on their roster.

The Penguins have the fortune to have two great players to build around and have done so with their three Stanley Cup victories. These two players make it difficult for teams to play against and with the support they now have, there is no reason why they couldn’t win two additional cups before they retire. The Penguins won back to back cups because of two players and their supporting cast. Though possible, it doesn’t look like any other team is in a position to win two in a row without having two great players. Winning a third and possibly a fourth remains the reality for the Penguins alone.

Supporting this idea of four in a row is the goaltending. The Penguins have it in Matt Murray. With Kessel, Guentzel, and the additional young cast members the supporting offensive strength is there to help push the Penguins further. The Penguins could have two or three offensive line. The checking role is supported by youth and experience. There is no worry here. The defense has been the main weakness as stated by the media and anyone with a mouth or ability to construct sentences. Somehow the Penguins won two cups with this defense. The key here is goaltending. The defense doesn’t have to be great, just good enough and this is what the Penguins have. Injuries have shown the Penguins to have depth, and this depth is created by the leadership of the veterans and coaches.

Finally, I believe Mike Sullivan to be a better coach than Bylsma and many of the opposing coaches he faced in the playoffs. Jacques Martin is an undervalued coach who has helped Mike Sullivan. In fact, maybe he is why the Penguins do not need a great defense. Then there Rick Tocchet is another issue for me, however, I have heard positives about him such as helping Phil Kessel. The fact remains that the coaching staff is stable and a very important reason to why the Penguins have won two cups in a row.

What makes the Penguins special are Crosby and Malkin. Other teams have the same or similar attributes the Penguins have but do not have these two players. Having one of these players may get you a cup win or maybe two in three years, but it will not give you the possibility of winning three or four Stanley Cups in a row. Penguins fan or not, it would be great to see a dynasty once more.

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NHL Top 100

The Stanley Cup Finals ended with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin being, in the media’s mind, as legends now cemented in greatness with their third Stanley Cup. The talk about the NHL’s top 100 players came to the forefront, and the discussion about Malkin’s not being in the top 100 started once more. In February, it was discussed and now once more it is being discussed. What will it take for him to move up in the list?

I am not a fan of this type of list. If we look at Sidney Crosby and his greatness as a hockey player, one element to his game that often mentioned is his work ethic and determination that is not related to scoring. Without watching him play, it become difficult to see this. A few Youtube pundits have mentioned how great he is when you see him live at the arena instead of the tely. His skill as a hockey player magnifies for those that have seen him. Sidney represents a problem with these types of lists. He is on this list because we can see him, but what about players from the past?

The first issue about this list is what determines greatness. This is not very objective as there are different requirements. Even if we develop an objective list, how do we rate players from the past? How do we rate Georges Vezinas? How many of us has seen him play in a consistent manner? We hear about how great he was, but compared to what? Consider the earlier years of the NHL where teams like Montreal could stack their team with homegrown talent. Is the Rocket Richard great because of the team around him or was he truly a great player? Is offense the main key to rate a player? If so, then why is Ovechkin in the top 100 and not Malkin? Offensively, Malkin is better. If it is about goals then we can find other examples. Do we include goalies or defensemen? These players do not score much.

There is the time period players played in. We only need to go back to the 80s and early 90s when everyone scored and compare to today’s scoring where 100 points is an amazing feat. What about the Original Six years or the period before that. Rule changes have altered how players play as have goalie equipment.

Rating the top 100 of anything or even the top ten is a waste of time but a boon for the fluff writers. These people talk hockey but spend very little of their writing, speaking, and gesturing about actual hockey. Most of these people see very little hockey or have a limited scope of what they see. Even I have a limited scope as I cannot watch every team with any consistency. The NHL Top 100 is a subjective rating where players are placed not on their skill but team achievements and current popularity. Is Jonathan Toews or Alexander Ovechkin better than Evgeni Malkin? How do we know Milt Schmidt is better than Malkin? We don’t and may never know.

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