Monday, May 30, 2016

The Silver Chalice is within reach

By: MF,

It’s finally time for Game One of the 2016 Stanley Cup Final where the Pittsburgh Penguins and San Jose Sharks battle to raise the silver chalice over their heads.

The best of seven series starts in Pittsburgh at Consol Energy Center. This will be a challenging series as these two teams rarely get to see each other during the regular season. The last time the Sharks were in Pittsburgh, they came out with a 3-1 victory, but that was against a different team. The Penguins have evolved and been reshaped by Head Coach Mike Sullivan and General Manager Jim Rutherford.

The Penguins have done a lot of scouting and video work to prepare for tonight’s game. The Sharks have good speed, skill, and get in on the forecheck, which is similar to what the Penguins experienced against the Washington Capitals. Also, the Sharks have a lethal power play. In the regular season, their power play was third-best in the league and is second overall during the postseason. They have gone 17 for 63 (27%) and have scored a power play in 11 of 18 games, where they have gone 9-2 when they do.

This will make defense key for the Penguins and leading them is Kris Letang. He has been critical for them and will be called on once again. With his skill to clear the puck, Letang can bring it up to create plays. Olli Maatta has also stepped up his game, since coming in after Trevor Daley was injured. Look for him to pick up his game. Another player that has picked up his play on the backend is Brian Dumoulin. He has been laying big hits and shutting down star players. He will look to match the Sharks hard hitting style with his own.

On offense, the “HBK” (Hagelin, Bonino, and Kessel) line has been on fire for the Penguins and helped the Penguins to this moment. As the Sharks look to shut down both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the HBK line will take advantage of the opening. Some guys are riding some point streaks going into this one. Bryan Rust is riding a three-game point streak (three goals and one assist), this is the first of his career. Malkin has a five-game point streak (one goal and five assists).

This isn’t the first time for many players to be playing in a Stanley Cup Final.  The 18-year veteran, Matt Cullen is making his second career Stanley Cup Final appearance. He had five assists in 2006 for the Carolina Hurricanes, who won the Stanley Cup that year. Chris Kunitz, Crosby, Malkin, Letang, and Marc-Andre Fleury will be playing in their third Stanley Cup final for the Penguins. Kunitz is the only player in this series to have won two Stanley Cups. The Penguins now join the Chicago Blackhawks as the only teams to make three Stanley Cup Final appearances, since the 2007-2008 season.

The Penguins are 7-3 at home during these playoffs and have an all-time home record of 8-3 in the Stanley Cup Final. They will need to take the energy from being at home and put it to work. They need to take it the Sharks early and often. The Penguins have to stay disciplined, stick to their game, and play a full 60-minute game of Penguins hockey! Lets Go Pens!

The Pens lineup is as follows: 



Murray in net! 

Play by Play
PENS 3 Sharks 2

3rd Period

1:15 - Sharks have an empty net.

2:09 - Lovejoy will head to the box for hooking. Sharks to the power play.

2:33 - BONINO SCORES! Hagelin and Letang battle on the boards! Letang outlets to Bonino in front and he puts it over the blocker shoulder of Jones! 3-2 Pens

2:48 - Cullen filling in on the wing for Rust on Malkin's line.

3:16 - Pens and Sharks exchanging chances right now.

5:01 - Kessel gets the rebound off the back boards and Jones comes up with a huge pad save.

6:17 - Cole lays a huge hit on Marleau and it dumps him right onto the ice.

6:35 - Crosby with an incredible pass to Hornqvist who is robbed by Jones.

8:32 - Rust heads back to the locker room and looks to be done for the rest of this one.

10:21 - Hertl gets a few chance right in front, but Murray stays with him to deny every chance.

12:46 - Rust is back on the bench.

13:13 - Pens power play ends. Sheary with chance in tight, but Sharks clear. Rust heads to locker room.

15:13 - Marleau lays a high hit on Rust and will head to the box. He gets a two minute penalty. Pens to the power play.

16:33 - Not a fast pace start to this period. Much different then first two.

19:08 - Pens short power play to start this period comes to an end.

20:00 - We are back for the third period! The Pens have to come out with speed, play to their strengths, and put on the pressure! Lets Go Pens!

2nd Period
0:00 - First period ends and things are tied 2-2.

1:07 - Pens get a late power play. Pavelski sits for tripping. Malkin and Thornton get matching minors.

1:48 - Marleau scores. Murray makes the first save on Burns' shot. Marleau gets the rebound and puts it in on a wrap around. 2-2 tie game

4:38 - Hornqvist with a blocked shot that goes off his hand.

6:49 - HBK line comes out and end up winning the offensive zone faceoff. The puck is loose in front and the Pens crash. Jones with solid saves.

8:42 - Murray shallows up a wrist shot from Burns.

10:13 - Defense for the Pens are not being as aggressive as the first period. They are backing up and giving the Sharks way too much room to work with.

14:24 - We all knew the Sharks were going to push back this period. The Pens need to play smart, stay disciplined, and take advantage of the Sharks pinching.

15:24 - Murray with a huge stretch pad save as the Sharks crash the net.

16:58 - Hertl scores on the power play. Hertl gets the puck down low and is able to put one off the stick of Murry through the five-hole. 2-1 Pens

18:46 - Now the Sharks get a power play chance as Cole heads to the box for hooking.

19:41 - Marleau with a 2-on-1 chance and he goes high glove on Murray. Looked like Murray got a piece of that show.

20:00 - Time for the second period! The Pens have to be ready for the Sharks to push back! They need to keep at it and never let up! Lets Go Pens!

1st Period
0:00 - First period comes to an end and the Pens have the 2-0 lead!

1:30 - Pens dominating the Sharks with their speed and great play making. Sharks are lucky Jones has been making some great saves or the Pens lead would be greater.

3:22 - The HBK line had three chances on net. Jones comes up big. Sharks can't match their speed.

4:01 - Sharks seeing the speed of the Pens right now. They have yet to answer the challenge.

6:12 - SHEARY SCORES! Crosby gets to the puck first, stops up to look at his options, and puts the puck right on Sheary's stick! He beats Jones! 2-0 Pens

7:13 - RUST SCORES! Sharks are caught pinching and Kunitz outlets to Schultz! He brings it into the offensive zone and fires a shot! It's blocked, but Rust finds the loose puck and puts it in. 1-0 Pens

8:12 - Solid start for the Pens. However, they are passing quite a bit. They need to get more pucks to the net.

9:08 - The Pens power play comes to an end. They had some good looks and chances.

11:08 - The first power play will go to the Pens as Zubrus sits for high-sticking.

11:26 - No whistles yet and the game has a nice pace to it.

13:10 - Lovejoy goes down and the Sharks have a chance, but Murray robs them.

13:46 - Crosby and Hornqvist with quality chances in tight, but Jones shuts them down.

15:42 - Murray with a nice glove save. He looks relaxed to start this one.

17:02 - Hagelin takes a shift with Crosby and Sheary. Sullivan showing the Pens speed factor.

19:10 - Good first shift by the Pens. Crosby does a great job to get the puck in to the zone. Lovejoy fires one wide and the rebound is just out of the reach of Kessel.

20:00 - The 2016 Stanley Cup Final is officially underway in Pittsburgh! The Pens have to some out with speed, pressure, and play a full game! Lets Go Pens!  

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