Stanley Cup Roundup

Last night was a rough night.

It was a foreseeable rough night.  After Game 4, when Pittsburgh led the series 3-1, I knew it was over.  Not just because of the series lead, but because thats when I knew they were truly the better team.

It was an odd series.  It never felt like matchups mattered that much.  Both teams took turns having good nights.  It alternated for awhile, but the back-to-back overtime games screwed it up.

The Sharks had Game 2, until Martin Jones watched the puck go over his head for the OT winner.  The alternating good/bad night theory slowly dissipated after that.  If San Jose has one game to look back on and feel bad, Game 2 is it.

Pittsburgh was the better team in many ways.  I thought their effort in the 2nd and 3rd period of Game 6 was better.  They wanted to the raise the Cup that night.  They were determined.

The Penguins passing was much better throughout the series.  They were much cleaner than the Sharks.  In the 3rd period of Game 6, the pucks that the Sharks were moving across the ice were going to no one.  It looked like they had given up.

At the ten minute mark of the 3rd period in Game 6, I knew it was over.  They were only down 2-1 at the time, but the pucks weren’t going anywhere, and the Penguins had dominated possession then and throughout that game.

That was a common thing throughout the series.  It wasn’t exactly defensive slumps by the Sharks, it was offensive outbursts by the Penguins.  Pittsburgh’s offense was better, which was something I didn’t foresee.  San Jose’s power play dying this series didn’t help.  The best power play of the playoffs didn’t show up in the most important series.  Had it, this series might not yet be over.

The goalies in this series were both fantastic.  Biased me thought Martin Jones should have won the Conn Smythe Trophy, even though he was on the losing team.  I’ll rant about that later.  But Jones kept the Sharks in this series.  I thought he was excellent, expect when the Penguins got him distracted and he didn’t turn his head around quickly enough.  But some of the ridiculous saves he made in this Cup were incredible to watch.

Like, how.

But Matt Murray was somehow better.

I was skeptical of Murray early in the postseason.  I like my goalies to have experience in the postseason.  Murray had none.  And he proved me wrong.

I didn’t carry a grudge on him throughout the rest of the postseason like I sometimes do with others.  Thats because I didn’t just think he was hot, I think he’s actually really good.

This gets into the debate of who should have won the Conn Smythe trophy last night, which was something I was steaming about but also couldn’t totally figure out.  It was hard to pick a MVP for the postseason.  Had the Sharks won, they would’ve had more options to pick from.

I thought Matt Murray deserved the trophy.  If he didn’t step up, the Penguins wouldn’t of had a true goalie for the postseason.  If that was the case, they wouldn’t have gotten to the Cup.

My runner-up was Kris Letang, who had five points in the series and scored the 2nd best +/- on the team.

And who’d they give it to?  Sydney Crosby, who disappeared for most of this postseason.  Great night for his legacy, which honestly, doesn’t need anything added to it.  Thats a compliment.

Hey though, at least deciding who won the Conn Smythe won’t be as difficult as deciding who gets the Finals MVP in basketball.

The lesson I can learn from this Cup is don’t get your hopes up.  Its okay to root for who you want to play, but don’t ever feel like you can beat them.  If they got here, they’re at least as good as you.  Pittsburgh was that, and unfortunately more.