That check by Joe Vitale on the Flyers Danny Briere was AWESOME BABY! (That has yet to catch on when I scream it at the games by the way.) However, the Pens do find themselves on a bit of a slide so I figure this would be a great time to reflect back on their last Cup run before we embark upon another. Here are the 10 Biggest Moments of that 2008/2009 season (as decided by Smorgasburgh.com) in chronological order:
10. Hossa disses the Pens. The big question that off season was whether or not the Penguins would re-sign Marian Hossa. They didn’t. Not only did Hossa reject a long term deal from the Penguins (and a couple other teams) to sign a 1 year deal with the Red Wings, but Hossa further angered the Penguins faithful by saying that he made his decision because he felt he “would have a little better of a chance to win the Cup in Detroit.”
9. Michel Therrien fired/Dan Bylsma hired February 15 2009. Bylsma was promoted from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and had no NHL Head Coaching experience. The Penguins were out of the playoffs at the time when Bylsma led them on a 18-3-4 run to finish the regular season.
8. Trading Deadline Deals. A couple weeks prior to the deadline, Ryan Whitney was traded to Anaheim for Chris Kunitz and Eric Tangradi and then a week or so later Ray Shero used a 3rd round draft pick to acquire Bill Guerin from the Islanders. Both Kunitz and Guerin already had experience on Stanley Cup winning teams and were key components to the Penguins’ Championship.
7. Talbot shushes the Philly crowd. The Pens were down 3 – 0 when Talbot, whose turnover led to one of the Flyers goals, decided to spark his team by picking a fight with Daniel Carcillo in game 6. He may have gotten his ass kicked, but the end result of the game was a comeback 5 – 3 win for the Pens. Mission accomplished.
6. Dueling hat tricks. The NHL must have been ecstatic with the 2nd round match-up between the Penguins and Capitals putting some of the greatest young talent in the game today (Crosby, Ovechkin and Malkin) on display. They did not disappoint. Ovechkin and Crosby both had hat tricks in game 2 of the epic 7 game series. It was the first post season hat-trick for each superstar. Even though the Capitals won the game and the Penguins were down two games to none, Crosby and his teammates were very confident that they could have won either game and ended up winning the series with a very decisive 6 – 2 victory in game 7.
5. Fleury’s game 7 breakaway save against Ovechkin. Ovechkin had a very good series, finishing with 14 points (one more than Crosby). He could not convert on a breakaway in a scoreless first period of game 7, though. Fleury came up with the huge save and the Pens went on to win 6 – 2 taking the series from the Capitals on their home ice.
4. Malkin’s unbelievable backhand goal against Hurricanes. His game 5 winner in overtime against the Capitals in the previous round may have been a bigger goal, but it wasn’t as spectacular as this one. It gave him a hat-trick in game 2. The Pens went on to sweep the series as Malkin dominated with a total of 6 goals in the 4 games. They went on to face Detroit in a rematch of the previous year’s finals.
3. Staal’s short handed goal against Detroit in game 4. The Penguins desperately needed to get something going in game 4 and things were not looking good as they had to kill a penalty already being down 2 – 1 in the second period. Jordan Staal (who has the NHL rookie record with 7 SH goals in one season) came through with his short-handed gem to tie the game and turn the momentum.
2. Talbot’s two goals in game 7. Maxime Talbot was already a favorite player among Penguins fans even prior to his legendary performance in Game 7 of the 2009 Cup finals. He will never be known as a goal scorer (witness his first career goal), but his personality, tough play and work ethic has won fans over. Despite signing with the Flyers this past off-season, I have a feeling Penguins fans will always hold a spot for Talbot in their hearts.
1. Fleury’s diving last second save. The Penguins hold on for a 2 – 1 win in game 7 at Joe Louis Arena as Marc-Andre Fleury does his best impression of a Secret Service Agent taking a bullet for the president to stop the Red Wings Nicklas Lidstrom in the closing seconds to win the Penguins their 3rd Stanley Cup. A moment I will never forget.