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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.

Greatest Hockey Players

The greatest hockey player is a topic I find boring for the most part. Normally, I ignore the idea because the same ten or so players are mentioned with Wayne Gretzky listed as one. It wasn’t until I made the mistake of listening to Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser discuss Sidney Crosby and the Stanley Cup. As I listened to Wilbon list as many hockey players as he could to crush any idea about Crosby being good, I noticed something that Kornheiser noticed. Wilbon was pushing Chicago Blackhawk players. Wilbon’s argument was weak at best. He acted like a chef throwing all known spices into a meal to make it great, thus creating garbage. Wilbon appeared to be solely basing greatness on cups, points, other writers, and the Chicago Blackhawks. I don’t think Wilbon has ever done any analysis of the players he stated and his argument was way off.

Who are the greatest hockey players? Unfortunately, I have seen many players playing and have only seen snippets of others like Orr. I hear how Howe was great but statistically speaking, it is not that impressive but better than Maurice Richard. Wayne Gretzky has the most points while Mario Lemieux has a better point per game if you remove his comeback years. Bobby Orr looks great, but was it really that good.

I exclude Orr for the simple reason that his greatness existed for only six years and the other years were average. He isn’t the greatest nor should be considered to be. He may have been the greatest scoring defenseman who revolutionized the position. His six years are simply amazing! He is eleventh in all-time scoring for defense but the highest in the points per game with 1.393 with Paul Coffey as the only other D-man averaging one or more points per game, 1.087. Coffey’s defensive abilities were a little lacking. What I can’t find out is his defensive capabilities. Simply put, Orr isn’t close.

Now I hear about Jaromir Jagr but his cup wins were because of Lemieux. Jagr, like many others people think of, has not done more than put up points. His longevity will likely place him at number two in scoring but not in the greatest players of all-time. As I look at additional players like Mark Messier, Bobby Hull, Guy Lafleur, Jean Béliveau, and Mike Bossy; there are good reasons to not consider them as great players worthy of a top ten list without a full analysis.

What about Sidney Crosby? Is he as good as some think or as bad as Wilbon insinuates? Well for starters, Crosby has won two Stanley Cups. I am certain Lafleur, Béliveau, and Bossy exceed him there. Hmm, what about scoring awards? Well I think that is only a partial, and Sidney isn’t going to beat Gretzky. Could saving a franchise count? I think so. Mario did it twice (bought the team the second time) and Sidney brought the team back with his play. Still, this isn’t enough. His 2016 playoffs work was phenomenal, and I don’t recall Gretzky ever doing that. Mario actually did backcheck in the playoffs, but the problem is you need to do it consistently.

If there was an overall best player, I would lean towards Mario. Sadly, I never saw Gordie play, but he could be number one as well. What about Wayne? For all of the points he scored, Wayne is at number three for me. He was no Mr. Hockey and Mario was a better passer and shot as well as played better defense when he had to. Who else can miss a significant amount of games and still come back and pass Pat Lafontaine to win the scoring title in the 1992-93 season.  And if for no other reason, does the name Warren Young mean anything? No, Wayne must happily be perched at third.

I list Mario at one with the knowledge that a good argument could place Gordie at one. Wayne will remain number three. Sidney Crosby at this current time isn’t close, but that is due to the fact his career isn’t done. He is above Marcel Dionne, Peter Stastny, Peter Forsberg, Phil Esposito, and I believe Lafleur. For me, Crosby may crack the list at ten, but without more analysis, it can only be speculative for me.

This doesn’t provide any concrete solution, and there are people sure to argue with who I would place at number one. Does it really matter? Can you compare Howe and his era with Wayne’s or Mario’s? What about the team they played on? That affects the play of these players. Wayne didn’t play alongside Warren. In the end, it just doesn’t matter.