Ranking the Penguins (1-10) on the most impactful players in Round 2
1. Matt Murray: Many in that Capitals room will say Matt Murray was the difference in the series. His .926 save percentage for the entire series wasn’t sensational but in games 2-4, had a combined .954 save percentage as the Penguins capped off three straight wins to take a 3-1 series lead. In the Penguins close out win, Murray had a .968 save percentage on even strength shots. He was in the Capitals head all series and his ability to turn away high danger scoring chances and limit second chances with excellent rebound control led to the Capitals not being as effective in scoring net-front goals, normally a strength for them as a hockey club.
2. Nick Bonino – He was the Penguins best player in Game 1 of the series and ended the series with the OT winner in Game 6. Had points in four of the six games, totaling two goals and three assists. All three assists were primary assists, beautiful setups on individual plays from Bonino. With the Capitals looking to match the Beagle line against the Malkin line, Bonino out-playing Evgeny Kuznetsov head-to-head through the first four games was a major factor why the Capitals are making tee times right now and Pittsburgh is four wins away from being in the Stanley Cup Final.
3. Carl Hagelin – He created chaos all series and stepped up in big moments. In Game 6, he registered a power play goal on eight shots, had two assists, including the primary assist on the game winner and had a plus-2 rating. He drove possession and was a force in all three zones throughout the series from back pressure to winning foot races. Finished with 3 goals and 2 assists, including the game winning goal in Game 3.
4. Sidney Crosby – His stat line was not good enough. 2 Assists, (1 even strength point) and just 14 shots on goal. Yet, Penguin coaches will tell you he was one of the Penguins’ best players in the series. His impact was seen on plays where he didn’t earn a point. Game 4, his play down low led to the overtime winner, than again in OT in Game 6, he had a phenomenal shift that should have set up the game winning goal if it wasn’t for a miracle save from Jay Beagle. Crosby needs to produce more vs Tampa Bay and be more aggressive in challenging d-men, but he was much better in this series than the stats say.
5. Phil Kessel – The Penguins leading scorer with 12 points in 11 games, Kessel lit the lamp in Game 6 with 2 goals on 5 shots and added an assist on the OT winner. Kessel set the tone in a big stage.
6. Kris Letang – Averaged nearly 32 minutes of ice time, had 3 assists and a +3 rating. Yet, Letang is farther down this list because of putting himself in position to be suspended for Game 4 that could have been disastrous for his hockey club if they didn’t bail him out and penalty or not, you can’t take a penalty in a tied game with under three minutes to play like he did in Game 6. Caps score there we’re previewing a Game 7 tonight.
7. Trevor Daley – Had a poor Game 1 and some shaky moments defensively, but the way he stepped up for the Penguins in Game 4 without Kris Letang was a huge factor in the series. Played over 28 minutes, had a goal and was a plus-2 in the Game 4 overtime win. In Game 6, he logged over 26 minutes and had to do a lot of covering for the slow-footed Olli Maatta.
8. Brian Dumoulin – Like Daley, didn’t have a great Game 1 but rebounded the rest of the way, aside from the brutal turnover in Game 5 that led to the Capitals third goal of the game. Game 6 he was Paul Martin like defensively. Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"