The Pittsburgh Penguins are the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Champions. With back-to-back championship victories, the team has officially reached the status of legacy consideration and its leader Sidney Crosby will now be talked about as one of the best ever to play the game of hockey.
The win secured Pittsburgh's second straight championship and the team is considered the favorite to three-peat in 2018. Taking the final series 4-2 over the Nashville Predators their two straight Cup wins means the Penguins achieved a feat no one else has in a salary-cap era. As proud a moment as winning the cup must be, it didn't come without controversy.
The Predators thought they had opened the scoring early in the second period, only to be foiled by a premature whistle. Filip Forsberg's shot from the wing just over a minute into the second period squeaked through Murray, giving Sissons a loose puck and a wide-open net. But referee Kevin Pollock, situated in the corner facing Murray and likely thinking the Penguins goalie had secured the puck, blew the whistle before Sissons' one-handed diving effort poked the loose puck into the net.
It was a play that had many in Nashville upset and it left just enough doubt to question whether or not the Predators would have suffered a different fate had the right call been made.
With the win, Pittsburgh has some important decisions to make. On Monday, veteran goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury waived his no-move clause in what looks to be the start of his transitioning out of Pittsburgh.
The Penguins also have to make some contract decisions and their team is already looking at being a cap team. How will they fit in players like Conor Sheary, Justin Schultz, Nick Bonino or Trevor Daley without losing players like Chris Kunitz, Ron Hainsey or potentially Carl Hagelin?
Who will the Penguins lose in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft? What can they do over the summer to prepare to defend their championship? Is Crosby better than Mario Lemieux?