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Benz: Penguins – Capitals Sequel Lives up to Hype even if Stars Didn’t

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2016 Penguins-Capitals was Epic in its Own Way

The sequel rarely lives up to the original. But when it comes to Penguins vs Capitals…this was a really good effort.

“Sorry to disappoint,” said a laughing Sidney Crosby after the Penguin 4-3 OT elimination win over the Capitals in game six Tuesday night at Consol Energy Center.

From his personal point of view you can understand that response when I asked Crosby to compare this recently completed Pittsburgh win over Washington to the legendary 2009 series. The same response could’ve been anticipated for Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin. The three NHL mega stars combined for just three goals in 21 periods of hockey.

In 2009, Sid and Ovi had three each in one game alone.

So, no. The star power didn’t shine as bright as it did in the 2009 epic. But that didn’t make this edition any less exhilarating.

Tension? You had it. Three overtime games out of the six. Two others were decided by one goal.

Controversy? Brooks Orpik’s hit and suspension. Kris Letang’s hit and suspension. Wilson’s knee on knee. The officiating in game six. Yeah. Covered there too.

imageStorylines? Matt Murray starting over Marc Andre Fleury. Patric Hornqvist benched out of nowhere during game 5. Ovechkin with his best chance to get beyond the second round. Sid and Geno’s perhaps last best chance to win a second Cup.

Check!

This series was so good, it’s a shame it had to happen so early in the playoffs. And it’s a shame it has to be compared to the first one. Because as a stand alone, I’ll take this on repeat every year.

“I wasn’t here for the first one,” said Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan. “But I can tell you with this one…these were two really good teams playing against one another.”

Undersell by Sully there. Whoever survived this series should’ve been considered the favorite to win the Stanley Cup.

That’s a roundabout way of me saying: The Penguins should now win the Stanley Cup. They are the best team remaining. That’s not true by point total. But in terms of how the team is playing, and the composition of the roster, I’d pick Pittsburgh over Tampa and whoever survives the Western Conference.

Maybe my opinion of Washington is too inflated. Because in early March I didn’t see a single team holding a candle to the Caps. Then again, this Penguin team hadn’t truly become what it was about to be. That didn’t happen until March 11th when Pittsburgh began a 14 of 16 winning stretch to close out the regular season.

Prior to that point I would’ve taken the Caps against the field. And nothing I saw from Washington makes me regret that stance. I saw a Capitals team that didn’t say die when it was down 3-0 in game three. Washington didn’t lose that game. It just ran out of time.

I saw a Capitals team that didn’t quit when it was losing 3-1 in the series. And there was no hangdog reaction when it trailed 3-0 in game six before battling to force overtime.

That Capitals team was excellent. This Penguin team is just a little better. That was true in 2009 as well.

“It was an intense series. A lot of physical stuff. A lot of big goals and big plays from different guys. Matt was great for us. They got some big goaltending. Some great saves. It was a great series,” gushed Letang.

He’s right. Even if the Xerox wasn’t quite as sharp as the original.


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About The Author

Tim Benz

TIOPS Columnist

Tim Benz can be heard on the Pittsburgh Steelers Radio Network post game show and M-F 10-1 on TribLive Radio

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