SAN JOSE — Sidney Crosby is the MVP of the playoffs. The Penguins captain hoisted the Conn Smythe Trophy after a two-assist performance in the deciding game of the Stanley Cup Final, a 3-1 Pittsburgh victory over the Sharks tonight at SAP Center.
Crosby finished the postseason with 19 points in 24 games. He was consistently superb throughout the playoffs. But this wasn’t a slam dunk like last year when Duncan Keith won MVP honors with the Blackhawks.
Phil Kessel led the Penguins with 22 points. Rookie Matt Murray was excellent in goal, save for a couple of shaky performances. Kris Letang and even Nick Bonino made strong cases as well.
That multiple Penguins could be considered for the award is testament to their evolution into a team that didn’t always need its two superstars, Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, to hit the scoresheet every night.
Malkin was awarded the Conn Smythe when the Penguins last won in 2009.
Mario Lemieux received it both times in 1991 and 1992.
The San Jose Sharks were clearly outplayed for most of Game 2 on Wednesday night, but they managed to force overtime when Justin Braun scored late in regulation.
Unfortunately for San Jose, the extra frame didn’t last very long. Conor Sheary beat Martin Jones at the 2:35 mark of overtime (top) to give Pittsburgh a 2-0 lead in the series. Sheary’s game-winner came just seconds after Sidney Crosby won an important offensive zone faceoff.
Why does Sharks forward Logan Couture think Crosby is able to win those offensive faceoffs so cleanly?
“He cheats,” said Couture after Game 2, per the Mercury News. “He gets away with that. He’s Sidney Crosby.
“He times them, and yet they don’t kick him out for some reason; probably because of who he is.”
Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who was on the ice for the game-winning goal, also believes Crosby could have been kicked out of the dot prior to Sheary’s goal.
“Maybe he should have been kicked out (on the winning goal),” Vlasic said, per Sportsnet. “It took a while to get into the faceoff. But what do I know.”
Crosby’s won just over 52 percent of his faceoffs in the postseason, but there’s no denying that he’s been dominant in that aspect of the game in this series. The Pens captain won 56 percent of his draws in Game 1 and an incredible 71 percent in Game 2.
“I’ve said it on a number of occasions: He’s not as good as he is by accident,” said Pens head coach Mike Sullivan. “He works extremely hard at it. He prides himself in the details of the game, like faceoffs. Because of that, I don’t think it surprises anyone that he’s able to dominate in the faceoff circle or in some of the other aspects of his game.”
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Bob McKenzie shares his memories of Tragically Hip singer Gord Downie, who apparently was a big hockey fan. (TSN)
Don Cherry discusses John Brophy’s toughness after the former Leafs coach recently passed away. (Sportsnet)
A look at Vincent Lecavalier‘s career. (Greatest Hockey Legends)
The perils of flip-flopping goalies in the playoffs … although it worked out for the Penguins at least last night. (The Hockey News)
Speaking of which, will the Blues get burned for switching back to Brian Elliott in Game 6 tonight? Here’s a preview:
Sidney Crosby has a chance to join a very rare club of clutch goal-scorers if he can win it for Pittsburgh in Game 7:
With the Pittsburgh Penguins’ season on the line in Game 6, plenty of eyes are on big guns Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Phil Kessel.
Those marquee names are really coming through so far as they’ve now built a 3-0 lead through two periods against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
You likely already saw Kessel’s display of high-end hand-eye coordination (if not, check it here). Kris Letang scored his first goal of the series to make it 2-0 on a very tricky, well-placed shot.
The highlight really might be Crosby’s tally, though. He left multiple Lightning players baffled and beat a very-much-game Andrei Vasilevskiy to beef that lead up 3-0.
Tampa Bay Lightning fans might be sad to see Ben Bishop out of the lineup – at least for now – but they’d be foolish to feel disappointed about the way Andrei Vasilevskiy has been playing.
The highlight of Game 2 so far might just be his save against frustrated Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby. It was a great attempt by Crosby, yet Vasilevskiy somehow pulled off the stop.
You can watch video of that impeccable play in the video above this post’s headline. Also, here’s a GIF of that moment:
Also, an alternate angle:
Vasilevskiy has enjoyed some other nice moments, including this big stop on Chris Kunitz that provided clear evidence that the young goalie wasn’t sleepwalking into the contest:
Matt Murray allowed a couple goals during the first period that had people talking about Marc-Andre Fleury, but maybe this save will boost his confidence (and his coach’s confidence in him?):