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Insider Only Elevated Defensive Play Has Penguins Two Wins Away from Stanley Cup

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Penguins Emerging as Superior Team

Two Wins Away

Conor Sheary provided the heroics in Game 2, scoring 2:35 into overtime to deliver the Penguins a 2-1 OT win. As teams that go up 2-0 in a Stanley Cup Final have won 90% of the time, do the Penguins now have a death grip on the series?

Wouldn’t go that far just yet but despite the Sharks being involved in two one-goal games, it’s bright and clear through six periods and two-plus minutes of overtime of which team is the superior team.

It’s the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“We’ll hold off on the funeral. There’s plenty of hockey to be played,” Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said in keeping things positive from his end.

The Penguins performance from a structure standpoint was something to watch. At times I felt like I was watching the New Jersey Devils from the mid 90’s and early 2000’s in how suffocating defensively the Penguins were.

The Sharks had zero time and space through the first two periods with just 11 shots on goal. We are witnessing a remarkable coaching job from this Penguins’ staff and it was on display again for long stretches in Game 2.

In the third period, the Sharks finally got to their game and were able to flex their muscles a bit below the hash marks, they crashed the net and got a game tying goal late.

Still, it didn’t result in sustained pressure for San Jose and we know how this one ended with Pittsburgh coming out on top in overtime.

Pittsburgh is the more complete team and if this series has any hope of coming back to Pittsburgh tied 2-2, San José’s big guns have to start taking over as the series shifts to San Jose.

Their best forward was Joel Ward as for the second straight game Pittsburgh’s best players were superior.

Another game, another great two-way game from Nick Bonino and the rest of the HBK line.

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Phil Kessel scored Pittsburgh’s opening goal in the second period off a turnover created by Carl Hagelin with Nick Bonino setting Kessel up for the tap in goal. It was Kessel’s 10th goal of the playoffs and Bonino in particular had another excellent two-way game with an assist and a team-high 4 blocked shots.

The Penguins leading Conn Smythe Trophy contenders are not usual suspects of the past like Malkin or Letang. The only individual trophy Malkin would be winning these days is a participation trophy.

Right now the leading contenders are Matt Murray, Nick Bonino, Phil Kessel and Sidney Crosby who was very good again.

Crosby had an assist on the game winning goal after an offensive zone draw win and was downright dominant in the face off circle, winning 17 of 24 draws.

It was the little things again from Crosby who orchestrated the overtime winning goal with a set formation on the face off by telling Letang and Sheary what to do.

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About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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