No one needs to tell you that this was a season of highlights.
One look at a photo of that beautiful silver Cup over Sid's head will tell you that.
Yes, there were the dark times. We watched the Pens blow leads against the Rangers, be shut out by the Lightning and get trounced by the Maple Leafs.
But from the darkness came light.
Obviously the highlight of the entire season was watching the team pass the richest prize in sports above their heads. We watched Sidney Crosby become the youngest captain to win a Stanley Cup, Evgeni Malkin become the first Russian on the Conn Smythe Trophy and Sergei Gonchar finally raise the holy grail above his head at the age of 35.
But, outside of that huge moment, the season was filled with individual highlights. This is a team game, but each team is a collection of individual players. Each one of them probably has a personal highlight from the season.
Today, we're going to guess what each of those highlights are.
Outside of winning the Stanley Cup, what was the best moment for each player that raised that trophy over his head?
These are our choices.
The captain. The youngest player in NHL history to lead his team to a championship.
He was called a diver and a whiner, he played through chants of "Crosby Sucks," he dealt with people leaping on the Ovechkin bandwagon, he was constantly scrutinized by the media but, every single time his leadership or his ability was questioned, he delivered.
He walked into a bright orange Wachovia Center and silenced his most vocal critics.
He entered a bright red Verizon Center, stood toe-to-toe with his greatest rival, and came out victorious.
He limped out of game seven with a knee injury, but ended the season with the Cup above his head.
It was tough to pick just one highlight from Sidney Crosby's season.
We almost went with his breakaway goal in game seven against the Caps, but that game was already over when Sidney scored to make it 6-1 in the third. Plus, it was against Jose Theodore.
Then we thought about Bing's hat trick against the Caps in game two, but went can't say that his greatest moment came in a loss.
So, instead we went with this:
Game four will be remembered for Jordan Staal's shorthanded goal that tied the game. However, it was that goal by Crosby that gave the Penguins the lead. Sid did a great job of following the play and getting himself open for Malkin's pass. If the Penguins lose that game they go down 3-1 in the series and the Cup likely spends another cold summer in the D. Instead Sidney gave his team the lead and the rest is history.
He went from playing on the last place Islanders to winning the Stanley Cup in the course of one season.
This was definitely his highlight:
His second goal of the game was a huge one. It helped the Penguins win game two in overtime and gave his team a 2-0 series lead against the Philadelphia Flyers. It was the kind of goal that Bill Guerin was brought here to score. On the power play Guerin, at the side of the net, grabbed the puck and jammed it past the goaltender from the doorstep.
Gonchar had a rough season. He was injured in the preseason and played only 25 regular season games. He then got hit knee-on-knee by Alexander Ovechkin during the second round.
Gonchar returned to the team and was a stabilizing force on the blue line. His impact was most felt on the power play and it was with the man advantage that Gonchar scored this goal:
That third period goal gave the Penguins the lead and their first win of the Stanley Cup Final.
Miroslav Satan was left for dead at the trade deadline.
But, instead of complaining about his demotion, breaking his contract and leaving the team, he reported to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He played well enough to be called up for the playoff run. He outperformed anyone's expectations during the postseason.
We first picked his breakaway goal against Carolina. It was the kind of pretty goal he was brought to the team to score. Rushing out of the box, Satan outmaneuvered Cam Ward and slid the puck past him. The Mellon exploded.
However that wasn't the highlight of Miroslav Satan's season.
When Satan signed with the Penguins in the offseason we all kind of expected him to score pretty goals.
No one expected him to fight.
That fight represented the desire that Satan showed during the playoffs. He wanted the Cup and he would do anything, whether it was fighting up from the AHL or dropping the gloves at the end of a game, to win it.
Petr Sykora is the first player on this list whose season highlight came during the regular season.
Sykora was injured/slumping during the playoffs, but he still had a memorable season.
His biggest moment was definitely December 11th, 2008:
Petr Sykora had 38 two-goal games at this point, but he had never scored a hat trick.
That night against the Islanders he would not be denied.
Petr did it.
The USS Hal Gill has left Pittsburgh and docked itself beside the riots of Montreal, but one Hal Gill game in particular will live in infamy.
The Snuggie game.
It was as dominant of a performance as Gill has ever put on.
Not only did he score a goal, but he played over 21 minutes of solid defensive hockey and showed exactly the kind of player he is.
Philippe Boucher's highlight comes at the 6:00 mark of this video:
How the game winning goal doesn't have its own separate YouTube clip we'll never know.
That goal gave the Pens the lead in game one and they never looked back.
We could have named many moments as Fedotenko's best:
His two-goal game against Philly in February.
Scoring the game winner against Detroit in November.
Breaking his hand on Colby Armstrong's nose in January.
Instead, we went with this:
It definitely wasn't Fedotenko's prettiest goal.
It wasn't a game-winning goal.
The announcers didn't even realize that it was his goal at first.
But it was a momentum changer.
Along with the Talbot fight, that goal showed that that the Penguins were not going down without a fight.
It was a goal built off of effort and a willingness to do the dirty work.
The fight that followed showed exactly how frustrated the Flyers were after the goal and, once you get the Flyers frustrated, you can beat them.
When he was picked up off of waivers at the trade deadline no one thought he was going to be such a huge piece of the Pittsburgh Penguins team.
Probably not even Craig Adams.
But what Adams did know is his role, and he performed it perfectly.
He took key faceoffs for the team, especially on the penalty kill. Jordan Staal was the only forward to spend more shorthanded time on the ice than Adams during the playoffs.
However, we've named this his season highlight:
It was the Penguins' second goal in eight seconds and the Verizon Center crowd was completely silenced.
That goal took almost all of the drama out of game seven.
"Mark Eaton" and "huge goal" do not usually go together.
But, at the 3:46 mark of this video, they do:
It was the second goal in two minutes for the Penguins and it was the beginning of the end for the Flyers.
So close to a hat trick:
Playing alongside Evgeni Malkin, Matt Cooke put on his best Ryan Malone impersonation and scored two goals.
He almost had a third, but couldn't hit an open net.
December 11th wasn't only a special night for Petr Sykora:
Dupuis scored his first career hat trick as well as chants of "We Want Ten" rained down from the Mellon Arena faithful.
It could have been his first game as a Penguin where he had a goal and an assist in Chicago, his two goal game in Tampa Bay or his two goal, one assist performance against Boston.
But we enjoyed this more:
Kimmo Timonen is still feeling that hit.
Part Two on Thursday.