PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Pittsburgh Penguins are just two wins away from claiming their fifth Stanley Cup championship.
Despite being outplayed by the Nashville Predators for vast portions of the first two games, the Penguins have found ways to win. By now, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. They’ve been an extremely opportunistic team for much of the playoffs.
Now, I know this may be putting the cart before the horse. I realize what I’m about to say is going to cause many, including myself, to fear the worst.
But, let’s assume for a moment that the Penguins finish the job and keep the Stanley Cup in Pittsburgh. Which player gets the Conn Smythe Trophy?
You could make a case for Evgeni Malkin, who leads the league in points. You could make a case for Jake Guentzel, who leads the league in goals and is setting rookie records.
What about Sidney Crosby? He’s been pretty good too.
The debate is fun, but what if there was a different option? One that would be historic for the NHL?
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman floated the idea of co-winners during the “Hockey Night In Canada” postgame show on Wednesday. Not just any co-winners either – Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) June 1, 2017
I absolutely love this idea. Frankly, the Penguins don’t make it out of the first round without Fleury. The Penguins certainly don’t get by Washington either.
Simply put, the Penguins aren’t playing for the Stanley Cup right now without Fleury almost singlehandedly willing his team to victory in the first two rounds.
Now, Murray has been incredible since taking over during the Eastern Conference Final. To date, he is 5-1 with a 1.54 GAA and a .943 save percentage. Keep in mind, that’s coming off an injury and not seeing game action for about a month.
The more I think about Friedman’s suggestion, the more I believe it makes sense. Take nothing away from what Malkin, Guentzel and Crosby have done. But, ask yourself – are the Penguins even this close without superb play in goal?
The answer? A resounding no.
Furthermore, this could finally bring the Fleury haters and Murray haters together. I still don’t understand how anyone could dislike either goalie, but that’s a topic for another day.
Should the Penguins win two more games and should Friedman’s suggestion become a reality, it would be a great capstone on the season. It would also serve as a great capstone on what will likely be the end of Fleury’s playing days in Pittsburgh.
Will the NHL go for such an idea? Probably not, but if the Penguins don’t win another two games, we’ll never know.