“Penguins playoff hockey is one of the best times of year in sports,” said Andrew Chuba, a junior member of the Seton Hill University baseball team. “Every year the team makes it
exciting and new.”
Entering the 2018 playoff season, the Pittsburgh Penguins finished second in the Metropolitan Division, fifth in the Eastern conference and 10th overall in the league with a record of 47-29-6.
The team looks to rewrite history as they try their chances of being the first team to be three-peat champions since the New York Islanders in 1980-83 with four straight Stanley Cup championships.
The return of Penguins playoff hockey also comes along with the highly anticipated big screen, which is displayed right outside of the arena. The purpose of the big screen is for Penguins fans to watch and feel all the excitement of the playoffs if they were unable to obtain tickets.
The Penguins recently beat their big eastern rival, the Philadelphia Flyers, in the first round of playoffs, with a 4-2 series victory.
“I love when the Penguins play the Flyers, it is always a physical series of games to watch,” said Chuba.
The series was a very emotional one with vital players of the Penguins coming in clutch to secure each win they had over the Flyers. Players such as Sidney Crosby stepped his game up to an extraordinary level with his hat trick in Game 1 which led to a 7-0 victory over the Flyers.
Other players such as Evgeni Malkin helped lead the team to their first victory with one outstanding goal right after receiving a hooking penalty.
“Geno’s goal was arguably one of the best goals I have seen him score throughout his entire career,” said Louie Maser, a senior business major at SHU. “He beat three of the Flyers to the net.”
The Penguins had to turn the page after a heartbreaking loss to the Flyers in Game 2 falling behind 5-1. After coming off a loss in Game 2, the Penguins would bounce back to win Game 3, 5-1, leading the series 2-1.
Game 4 gave a chance for the younger players of the Penguins to shine and prove themselves worthy of Lord Stanley. 23 year-old forward, Dominik Simon, made his NHL playoff debut April 18. Simon contributed to the team with his first NHL playoff point, which was an assist to Crosby, pushing the lead to 3-1 in the series.
“I was lucky to start the game. I was taking the energy from the crowd and trying to play my best and be responsible from the first. I think it went pretty well,” Dominik Simon said in an article from NHL.com by Jeff Carpenter.
The next game would end in a loss to the Flyers and make the series 3-2. The Penguins faced an up and down road of emotions but finished strong in Game 6 with a series clinching win over the Flyers, 8-5. In part, Jake Guentzel showed up to play. The young Penguins forward rallied up three goals to get the hat trick at 12:48 in the third period. Just ten seconds later, Guentzel would score his fourth of the night. The four goals played a major role for the team to snag the series win.
After defeating the Philadelphia Flyers, the Penguins moved on to the second round where they met their second rival in the Metropolitan Division, the Washington Capitals.
“The Caps will be a great series but I expect some big hits and big goals from both teams,” said Chuba.
This is the third year in a row the Penguins and the Capitals have met during the postseason. The Capitals are no pushovers and stand in the way of the Penguins making history. The Washington team holds a strong threat as they have highly-skilled players such as T.J. Oshie (Forward/ Right Wing), Brooks Orpik (Defenseman), Alexander Ovechkin (Forward/ Left Wing) and Braden Holtby (Goaltender).
The series kicked off with a big win for the Penguins in Washington, overcoming the Caps, 3-2. This was the first time in history the Pens have defeated the Caps in Game 1 of playoffs. Game 2 of the series took a turn for the worst as the hockey gods were not in favor of the Penguins as an attempt for a goal was denied by the officials. The Caps defeated the Penguins 4-1, making the series tied at 1-1.
Game 3 ended in another loss for the Penguins falling 4-3 to the Capitals. The Penguins now trail 2-1 in the series. Bruised and battered the Penguins fought hard through all three periods with goals contributed by Crosby, Guentzel, and Hornqvist. Other Penguin players were not so fortunate during Game 3.
For the second time of the series, Capital’s Tom Wilson (Right Wing) made another questionable hit on Penguin’s Zach Aston-Reese, leaving Aston-Reese with a broken jaw and concussion. Later in the game, Guentzel stuck up for Aston-Reese by leveling Wilson into the boards initially “playing the puck.”
Game 4 is set for May 3 at 7 p.m. in Pittsburgh. Game 5 is set for May 5 at 7 p.m. in Washington.
Published By: Stephen Dumnich