Posted on May 18, 2008 07:30 PM | Permalink
The Penguins are going to the Stanley Cup final for the first time since 1992 when Mario Lemieux led them there against the Chicago Blackhawks. They’ll face either Detroit or Dallas.
HOW THE GAME WAS WON
Pittsburgh simply annihilated the Flyers, 6-0 in Game 5. What the Penguins did was kill the Flyers’ resolve rather early in the game with a trap that hemmed them into their own zone – much like Games 1, 2 and 3. Ryan Malone had two goals, one directly off the trap that allowed the Pens to get a cycle going.
“You always approach the playoffs with a lot of confidence,” said coach Michel Therrien. “And the confidence that we had is the way that we've been finishing the year The last two months I thought we played some great hockey.
"Not only offensively, but defensively as well. The way Marc‑Andre Fleury was playing, too. There was no doubt that we were approaching every single game with a lot of confidence. But to be quite honest, when we start the playoffs, we're not thinking about the Stanley Cup final. Our main focus was on the first round, and that was our philosophy with that young group. I'm not a big fan to look on top of the mountain when there's a lot of steps to be made. And the next one, it's another step.”
NOT LIKE DAD
Greg Malone played on some pretty bad Penguins clubs in the mid-1970s and early 1980s. His son played on some poor Penguin teams that got beat pretty good by the Flyers in recent times. Ryan gets to do something his father never did – play in a Stanley Cup Final.
“I think since Day 1 of training camp, getting a shot to make the team was a great circumstance for myself,” Ryan said. “I think to be where I am right now, I think Fleury was saying we all worked hard together. When you have all 20 guys on the ice pulling in the same direction and trying to make a difference, it's the biggest thing. Personally, you go out there, try to win your one‑on‑one battles and just battle hard and sometimes you get the bounces. So I think personally it wasn't really, I don't know, expecting too much; you just want to make sure you're playing your game and everything else falls into place. We still have a long way to go. So there's nothing to celebrate, that's for sure.”
Pens captain Sidney Crosby was asked about the team’s early success to get to a Cup final in just his third season.
“I don't think we had any expectations as far as I was concerned,” he said. “I think we did everything in our control as players to have the right attitude and to learn as much as we could, as quick as we could. We're lucky to have some mix of guys with veterans and younger guys that have really shown they can play even early on in their careers. So having that mix has helped us. And I think we've set some high standards for ourselves.”
DON’T TOUCH IT
Fans at Mellon Arena were screaming at Crosby not to touch the Prince of Wales Trophy. Bad luck and all that.
“Yeah, I was aware of it,” Crosby said. “I've watched a lot of Stanley Cup playoff games. You don't see too many guys touch it. And I made sure, with a couple of the guys who have been through it before, [like Petr] Sykora, they all gave me a heads up, for sure. And it's a good feeling to go up there. But we all realized that's not the one we want to be holding.”
THREE YEARS FOR BRIERE
For the third straight year, Danny Briere advanced to a conference final and no farther. Twice he did it in Buffalo before becoming a Flyer. It weighs on him.
“Obviously, you want to take the next step,” Briere said. “But at the same time, it’s tough to get there. Three years in a row, especially. But I’m not going to quit. I’m gonna keep trying. I hope to get another crack at it next year. That’s my goal.
"We made a good step in the right direction [this season]. We have a young team. We have a team that is built for the playoffs. I like the grit and the speed of our team. I think we’ve gained a lot of experience, playing a Game 7, playing an overtime, playing in Montreal which is one of the toughest [arenas] to play in during the playoffs. I think we’ve gained a lot of experience in this playoffs.”
COACH JOHN STEVENS SAYS
In his post-mortem, Flyers coach John Stevens talked of how proud he was of a club that finished dead last in the NHL last season and made an improbable playoff run this spring.
“I just told the guys that I have been in the game a long time,” Stevens said. “Working with this group has been one of the more enjoyable experiences I've had in pro hockey. It really has been. We've made tremendous strides this year, and we've come an awful long way. And if you look back, we played the one- two- and three-seed in the East in the playoffs and I thought we did a remarkable job.
"You give Pittsburgh credit. To me they were the No. 1 seed in the East in terms of what I've seen. And they're very deserving of moving on.”