Well, the book on the 2017-18 season is over and for the first time since October 2015 a hockey player not associated with the Pittsburgh Penguins has touched the Stanley Cup. It’s going to take a while to wrap your brain around that, but at least it’s over and done with as we move into the offseason.
Some random thoughts:
—First off, a hearty and sincere congrats to our friends at Japers Rink (and to the non-troll Caps fans everywhere); very awesome blog ran by a great group of folks. As Pens fans we may never like to see rivals win, but seeing a long-suffering fan base get to bask in glory is what it’s all about. We have plenty of our own fresh memories of recent championships to hold us over, and unless you’re playing it a video game, your team isn’t going to win ‘em all. But, there’s always next year..
—One of the few things the NHL does right is that they have the best trophy in the world and the best trophy celebration and presentation in the world. It doesn’t go to an owner first, the players get it. A way to make it better? Instead of sending Gary Bettman out there, wonder if the last captain to win it awards it to the next one? Other than the obvious bad visual this time, that would be a bomb way to pass the torch.
—This is the first time since 1995 that the Penguins have lost to the eventual Stanley Cup champion in a round before the Finals (with obviously Detroit in 2008 beating the Pens). Pretty amazing since that encompasses 13 eliminations, some of them 2-3 rounds in, but for a long time beating what’s generally been strong Pittsburgh teams hasn’t led to glory.
—Kinda fitting that Alex Ovechkin scored his 15th goal last night, tying Sidney Crosby for most goals in one playoff in this era. The two frame each other very well, and one day we’ll look back on this like hockey’s version of Magic/Bird. Two rivals now with more in common.
—The Pens and Capitals are so linked throughout the years and now another interesting connection; the 2017-18 Caps join the 1990-91 Pittsburgh team as the only clubs to trail at one point in every series and still overcome and win the Cup.
Upping the ante is another parallel; the ‘91 Pens were down 1 game to 0 to the Caps in the 2nd round. The ‘18 Caps were down 1-0 to the Pens in the 2nd round. Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln, Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy.
—And now that makes 3 years running that the winner of Pens/Caps in the 2nd round goes on to win it all. If you were a betting person it sure would seem more likely than not with this playoff format that we are going to see Pittsburgh v. Washington for a fourth straight year next year. Can’t wait already.