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All hail Trevor Daley!

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The Pittsburgh Penguins didn't have Kris Letang last night, but they had Trevor Daley, and that ended up being more than enough.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

After Kris Letang earned a suspension, the Pittsburgh Penguins were in deep trouble for Game 4 against the Washington Capitals. The same Caps who out-shot them 21-9 in the 3rd period of Game 3 and by all accounts were ready to pounce on a big weakness on defense in Game 4.

The Pens, after all, were just 2-8-1 in the regular season without Letang. Letang's been eating an absurd 29:13 per game in these playoffs, and doing it well. If Pittsburgh couldn't afford to lose a single player, that player would be Kris Letang.

Luckily, though, Pittsburgh turned to their most veteran defenseman, and one who had played top pair minutes for many years with the Dallas Stars. This of course was Trevor Daley. And Daley had a night for the ages.

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Who cares about plus/minus in the big scheme of things, but the Penguins and Capitals scored 5 total goals, all at even-strength and Daley was a +3. You don't need to be a math major to know that means he was on the ice for every goal for (including the first goal that he scored himself) and conceded none, despite playing a game-high and almost Letang-esque 28:41.

Now's the time to point out that Pittsburgh acquired Daley for Rob Scuderi in December. And, yeah, Scuderi's an easy target for fan's angst because he's way past-prime, aging badly and ineffective. But not only did the Penguins acquire a useful player for Scuderi, they acquired a workhorse that made a huge difference in winning a playoff game and shifting a series against the Presidents Trophy team from potentially 2-2 into the reality of a 3-1 advantage.

Pittsburgh also had to retain a $1.125 million salary cap hit penalty for next year to complete the trade, but based off the game from last night alone, that's already worth it. Daley led Pens defensemen in ES time and PK time tonight, saw a ton of the Nicklas Backstrom - Alex Ovechkin line and they produced no goals. Again, it's worth repeating that Daley jumped up in the play and scored a goal himself.

Every year teams that want to go on a deep playoff run have to overcome adversity and win in the face of daunting odds. One of my favorite quotes comes from Patrick Henry, the Virginian who help stir up the American Revolution.

"Adversity toughens manhood, and the characteristic of the good or the great man is not that he has been exempt from the evils of life, but that he has surmounted them."

Adversity toughens manhood, and the characteristic of the good or the great man is not that he has been exempt from the evils of life, but that he has surmounted them.
Read more at: http://www.azquotes.com/quote/602676
Adversity toughens manhood, and the characteristic of the good or the great man is not that he has been exempt from the evils of life, but that he has surmounted them.
Read more at: http://www.azquotes.com/quote/602676

In Game 4, Trevor Daley (and Matt Murray and Matt Cullen and Patric Hornqvist and Brian Dumoulin as well as a lot of other individuals) surmounted the adversity and showed some championship characteristics. But, they're not even halfway to that end-game right now, the journey is far from over.

But this game on May 4th, 2016 (the anniversary of the birthday of Pens super-fan Cy Clark [aka Malkamania], no less) will go down in Penguins lore if they end up winning this series against the Capitals. Cy would be really proud. And there was no steadier skater than Trevor Daley to help push the Penguins to a crucial playoff win.

Daley's gone from a spare-part last summer in Dallas that they traded, to a man miscast and unable to find a role in Chicago, to a legit difference maker in Pittsburgh. And he came up the biggest on the night where the Pens needed him the most.