Big Game Hunters

The Pittsburgh Penguins made sure to give Craig Anderson most of the day off for his 36th birthday on Sunday.

The defending Stanley Cup champions hung four goals on the birthday boy in a mere twenty minutes and sent him into the locker room for an early slice of cake.

That’s Pittsburgh Penguins hockey.

If Kris Letang were healthy, we would’ve seen several of those performances by now.

He’s not.

Neither is Justin Schultz.

The Penguins just don’t care. They don’t make excuses.

All Mike Sullivan’s team does is show up in big games.

All Mike Sullivan’s team does is show up in big games and win.

The Senators found out on Sunday what everyone in Pittsburgh already knew.

You can only contain Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel for so long.

They’re three of the best playoff performers in NHL history and they’re all on the same team.

Sorry, Ottawa, but a defensive scheme and a hot goalie are no match for pure talent.

Not to mention, Matt Murray has picked up right where he left off last playoffs.

The kid is as calm and composed as any playoff goalie I’ve ever seen.

He rarely overcommits on a play and almost always makes the correct read.

Any talk of him having a weak glove hand is just plain nonsense.

Just about the only way you can beat Matt Murray when he’s locked in is with a deflection.

Even if you contain the Penguins stars, you’re still not in the clear.

I’m not one to preach about a team’s heart or intangibles, but this team has all of the right ones.

Olli Maatta, who had one goal in 55 games this season, has scored the first goal for the Penguins in both of their previous two games.

He’s also played very well in his own end and he’s helped feed the transition game nicely.

Carter Rowney, an undrafted, 28 year old, AHL player.

Hardly anyone in the hockey world could pick Carter Rowney out of a lineup.

Three assists and a dominant physical performance in game five.

That’s the thing about this group of guys.

When the stakes are highest, when their backs are against the wall, they always step up.

I can’t remember a team in any sport that I’d more confident to put my word on the line and predict a win in a big game from than Mike Sullivan’s Penguins.

Washington dominated the entire second round series through six games.

The Penguins flip a switch and rout them in game seven.

It’s incredible, really.

And that’s exactly what happened on Sunday.

Being the first team to get that third win is critical.

The Penguins knew that.

Tired and battered, the Penguins overcame adversity once again in their biggest test to date.

It’s probably safe to say that we’ll never seen a Penguins team like this again in our lifetime.

Two of the greatest players in NHL history as our top centers.

A goaltender who is en route to his second Stanley Cup as a rookie.

A Penguins legend, who carried the team through the opening two rounds, backing him up.

A depleted defense without a true number one, making things work by committee.

A group of role players, who always seem to come up big when the team needs them most.

A mastermind behind the bench, that is sure to outsmart whichever coach he’s up against.

Cherish these Penguins.

Believe in these Penguins.

They won’t last forever.

 

 

 

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