Do you ever sit back and reflect on what the last ten years have been like for the Penguins? I started thinking about it yesterday when reading some stats and historical things about Crosby and Malkin.
Crosby & Malkin have played 110 playoff games each, the 16th & 17th most GP w/a career avg of a point per game pic.twitter.com/KOgwuGhwx5— Hockey Reference (@hockey_ref) May 9, 2016
So, I started thinking about how fun it would be to rattle off some of the more memorable/fun/absolutely awful memories and moments from this playoff run that started in 2007, when these kids were so young.
Before we dig back into the playoffs, let's throw it back to before the times got good.
It's been one hell of a journey of ups and downs since then, and here's some of the crazier memories:
The Penguins are simply outclassed in 5 games by a ridiculous Ottawa Senators team that ended up going to the Cup Final
The Pens first taste of the playoffs was short-lived, and was their first taste of playing through pain as well. After the season ended it was revealed Sidney Crosby played the final weeks on a broken foot. He still managed 3 goals and 2 assists in the 5-game series, but it would unfortunately foreshadow the first of many springs where Crosby would have to deal with injury.
The Penguins get their redemption against the Ottawa Senators and you get the feel that this team might have something special up their sleeve. Gary Roberts goes from hero to cult classic hero in about 12 seconds. Talk about being in a team's head.
Marian Hossa has his first signature moment as a Penguin, bringing the house down at the Mellon Arena to clinch the second round against the Rangers. Dan Girardi was the original Mike Weber, apparently.
Evgeni Malkin is tired of your shit and takes one of the most memorable breakaways that I can recall.
Brooks Orpik and "The Shift"
Ryan Malone was a warrior for the Penguins, scoring 16 points (6g+10a) in the 20 game playoff run that would help earn him a seven year, $31.5 million contract from Tampa in the summer.
And then Petr Sykora calls his shot in a marathon triple overtime game that saw the Penguins endure the in-game injury loss of #1 defenseman Sergei Gonchar.
The Penguins fell asleep to start Game 6 against the Flyers, and it took a big comeback to win that one. Dan Carcillo was an idiot, fighting Max Talbot in maybe the most harmful win in hockey history.
Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin went toe-to-toe with dueling hat tricks. I mean, come on.
And literally no one expected this kind of start to Game 7, Ovechkin with the game (and possibly series) on his stick and Marc-Andre Fleury stands tall.
Evgeni Malkin did a mean, mean, mean thing to Cam Ward. Like, REALLY MEAN.
Sergei Gonchar. What. a. goal.
Rob Scuderi was 'The Piece,'
The Penguins did it.
Pascal Dupuis has a signature moment of his own. Coming from behind to tie and then clinching a series in Overtime is always so fun.
In a personal favorite, watch Crosby put on a clinic abusing Jason Spezza before finding Kris Letang for a point-shot for what ended up being a game-winning goal late in the 3rd period.
Yikes, what a brutal way to close the Mellon Arena. This one was tough. Jaroslav Halak must have made a deal with the devil for this performance for the first taste (but certainly not the last) that the Penguins would run into the dreaded "hot goalie" phenomenon.
With Crosby on the shelf with his concussion, and Evgeni Malkin out with a torn ACL, no one expected much of the Penguins this spring. And, for good reason, the team limped down the stretch without their 2 superstars.
However, there was some magic in Game 1. The Pens brought back Alex Kovalev (remember that?) and he scored the first playoff goal in the history of Consol Energy Center -- which would also be the last of Kovalev's 163 total goals in a Penguins jersey. Arron Asham scored soon after, and Pittsburgh won 3-0 to show a lot of heart and give some excitement.
James Neal picked a hell of a time to end a cold-streak, scoring in Game 4 in double overtime for what sadly would be the Pens final win of the season, as their short-handed roster just wasn't strong enough to defeat the Lightning.
One week before the playoffs started, the tone was set. It was not a good tone.
Danny Briere was offsides. Can we retroactively make a coaches challenge?
Kris Letang was thrown out of a playoff game after feeding Kimmo Timonen his lunch.
Sidney Crosby passed the baton to Claude Giroux.
Again: I think a national TV audience saw Crosby pass baton to Giroux as NHL's best player. #NotAHomer #Flyers #Pens— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) April 23, 2012
More than any other year, this was a huge missed opportunity for Pittsburgh. The eventual 2012 Eastern Conference champion were a fairly average and totally forgettable New Jersey Devils team. The Pens didn't deserve to move on with the way they played, but perhaps more than any other this was a clear season where the team had a real chance to go far, and failed to do so. In hindsight, Dan Bylsma's lack of ability to control this team's emotions really stands out when looking back on this year.
Marc-Andre Fleury couldn't keep the puck out of his own net.
Brooks Orpik with a signature moment in Overtime.
The Penguins made Daniel Alfredsson melt down and admit likely defeat before the series was over. (He was right, Ottawa would meekly bow out in the next game after these less than inspiring words from their leader).
And they made Paul MacLean melt down too.
Gregory Campbell. Sigh.
Jagr hooked Malkin. Goodbye.
A disastrous sequence in Columbus for Marc-Andre Fleury
The Penguins were steamrolling along against the Rangers. And then they had life, fueled by Martin St. Louis.
This series, of course, would set in motion dramatic changes and overhaul in Pittsburgh. Out were Bylsma and Ray Shero, despite vast regular season success, individual Coach & GM of the year awards and a recent Stanley Cup.
Carl Hagelin, it's okay, you're one of us now.
The Penguins still couldn't get over their Rangers hurdle, being eliminated by the Blueshirts for the second straight year. With Letang's season ending March injury, it was an uphill battle against a more talented NYR team that Pittsburgh was unable to overcome. Fortunately, lessons learned from 2015 helped forge the team's path to add as much speed and skill and depth as possible to gear up for 2016.
The Pens finally get over their Henrik Lundqvist and Rangers hurdle on the 3rd year in a row of playing. A decisive 5 game win, including chasing Lundqvist 2 times (and he'd leave a 3rd game for injury). Bryan Rust put the nail in "The King's" 2016 postseason with the 6th goal of Game 5.
Patric Hornqvist gives the Penguins their first OT Playoff win since Orpik in 2013. Pittsburgh had dropped 8 straight overtime games before this one.
Will we see more good memories piling up at the end of this list, or some bad ones? Maybe we'll find out tonight. Go Pens. Every game is a new chance for something special to happen, and the Penguins have given us a ton over the past 10 springs. Here's to hoping for a few more good ones in the coming weeks.