A Season of Highlights: Part Two



Outside of winning the Stanley Cup, what was the best moment for each player that raised the trophy over his head?
Years from now, what will each player look back on from this season and remember?
Winning the Stanley Cup has to be at the top of everyone's list, but what about individual highlights?
Which mattered the most?  Which will never be forgotten?

We did part one on Tuesday.
It included Crosby's game winning goal against Detroit, Guerin's overtime winner versus Philadelphia, Petr Sykora's hat trick, Miroslav Satan's fight and more.
Those moments would be enough to fill an entire season for most teams.
In 2003 we would have sold our mothers for just one of those moments.

The 2008-2009 season was special.
It provided a lifetime of highlights within the span of nine months.

Today we finish off the list of individual player highlights.
Again, we're taking our list from the order that players held the Stanley Cup on
If anyone is missing, blame Gary Bettman.




In 2008 Orpik's highlight was obvious.  "The Shift" brought the Mellon crowd to their feet and some extra cash to Brooks' bank account.
2009 didn't feature an iconic moment like that, but the Free Candy was still dished out.


Sure, the guy selling beer in the upper deck of the Mellon Arena had more of an impact in the Final than Marian Hossa, but watching that hit was still nice.
When Marian signed with the Red Wings last July almost every Penguins fan dreamed of watching Orpik run over Hossa at center ice.
Brooks Orpik gave us that moment in game one.



Watching this true American hero in a Los Angeles Kings uniform next season will hurt.
If it would have been financially possible, Scuds would still be in the black and gold next year.
Unfortunately, that's not the case.
However, the Piece leaves the 'Burgh knowing that he saved the Stanley Cup.


The sound on that clip is mud, so it's difficult to hear McGuire screaming about how "four in black" put his hand on the puck in the crease before quietly realizing that "it's his foot."
Scuderi saved the Pens season at least two or three times at the end of game six.
Without his play in front of the net, the Penguins don't win the Stanley Cup.



Fleury's play in the postseason was everything the Penguins expected when they drafted him first overall in 2003.
His saves in the Philadelphia series alone are worthy of their own blog.
Jeff Carter and Daniel Briere still see him in their nightmares.
But none of those saves are his greatest highlight.
Neither is his save on Daniel Cleary in game six, despite how huge it was.

We thought about his final save with seconds to go in game seven in Detroit.
We remembered the fear we felt when we saw the puck end up on Lidstrom's stick.
Time stopped.  The net was open.  There was still time.
But then Marc-Andre Fleury, like a secret service agent diving in front of the president to stop a bullet, flew across the crease, stopped the shot and the Penguins won the Cup.

And that wasn't even his greatest highlight.


"It's Ovechkin, folks. It's Ovechkin… and he's robbed by Fleury!"
The fact that Bob Cole wasn't in the HNIC booth for the Stanley Cup Final is a crime.
In forty states and eight Canadian provinces, so is that save.

Game seven against Washington was supposed to be nerve-wracking.
Everyone expected a close, down-to-the-wire hockey game.
When Alexander Ovechkin came charging down on Fleury in the first few minutes of the game, every single person watching stopped breathing.
Ovechkin scores there and the Verizon Center lights up.  The crowd explodes, the sirens and horns are unleashed and the Capitals gain all the momentum in the world.
Instead, Fleury made the save, the momentum shifted and the Penguins rolled over the Capitals on route to the conference final.
Without that save there is no two goals in eight seconds, no Crosby breakaway on Jose Theodore to put the game away, no sweep of Carolina, no rematch against the Red Wings and no Stanley Cup.

The Capitals and their fans never recovered from watching their superstar get stopped on a breakaway and their collapse was soon to follow.



The "Superstar" definitely had a playoff to remember.
He scored the series-winning goal against Carolina.
He scored the opening and closing goals in the Pens first win against the Red Wings.
His pregame ritual with Marc-Andre Fleury became a highlight reel favorite.

But ultimately, the choice comes down to Talbot's game-changing moments in two games.

The first is the "shhh."
It is as close to a signature moment as anyone will ever experience.
With his team trailing and seemingly unable to score, Max Talbot knew something needed to be done to change the course of the game.
With one fight against Daniel Carcillo he did just that.
The Philadelphia crowd went nuts, but his teammates were inspired.
They knew that now was the time to pull out all the stops and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
And, just in case some people didn't get the message, Talbot told the Philadelphia crowd not to start celebrating too early.


That image will go down in Pittsburgh sports history forever.

But we're not picking that as Talbot's greatest highlight.


We realize that this is not without controversy.
It wasn't the Cup winner, but that goal – like Fleury's save against Ovechkin – changed the course of the game.
The Detroit Red Wings are a completely different team when playing from behind than they are with the lead.
They're even a completely different team than when the score is tied.

Max Talbot scored that goal through hard work and by capitalizing on Detroit's mistakes.
That had to have been demoralizing for the Red Wings.
That had to plant some seeds of doubt in their heads.

That goal allowed the Penguins to play with the lead.
It calmed whatever nerves they had.  It boosted their confidence.
And it forced the Red Wings to face that the fact that the Pittsburgh Penguins were the better team.
They're still having trouble accepting that.

The fact that he scored again later was just the icing on the cake.



Picking Evgeni Malkin's best moment is like trying to decide which cheerleader to go home with on prom night.
They're all attractive choices and they're all out of your league.

He led the NHL in scoring in the regular season and in the playoffs, he won the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP and he has adorable parents.
Against the Red Wings, he assisted on Crosby's game winner in game four, Gonchar's winner in game three and Talbot's first goal in game seven.
He scored the game winning goal in game five against Washington and in games two and three against Carolina.

He had a hand in almost every moment on this list.
Evgeni Malkin made the Stanley Cup playoffs his own personal showcase.

And that was never more clear than in the aforementioned game two against Carolina.

Geno was a beast.
He recorded a hat trick that night and definitely saved the best for last.
Cam Ward needs therapy because of that goal.

Malkin silenced anyone that criticized his play during the 2008 playoffs.
He heard the critics that year and was determined to prove them wrong this year.
Malkin ran over and demoralized the Hurricanes essentially by himself that night.




During the season you couldn't turn around without being hit by cries to trade Staal.
Even when he had great games, like his four point triumph against the Red Wings in November, he couldn't catch a break with most fans.
That treatment didn't stop during the Stanley Cup playoffs.
He was criticized for his faceoff skills and questions about when he would start scoring followed him every game.
Then came game four against Detroit.


The Penguins were trailing 2-1 at that point.
Detroit was on the power play.
If the Red Wings score there they likely win the game and go up 3-1 in the series.
That didn't happen.



Godard didn't play during the playoffs, but in December he beat up Scott Hartnell.


It wasn't a great game for the Pens, but Godard also scored a goal and came only an assist short of a Gordie Howe hat trick.
We almost went with his fight against David Koci for the Gonchar revenge factor, but the fact that he scored a goal in the Philadelphia game made the difference.
That and the fact that he punched Hartnell in the head.



Letang had a very good playoffs.
He finished third in playoff scoring among defensemen, only one point behind Sergei Gonchar.
He had a relatively solid regular season as well.
We thought about his two goal game against the Rangers in January when he scored the game winner.
However, his biggest goal definitely game in game three against Washington:


If the Penguins lost that game they would have found themselves in a 3-0 hole against the Capitals.
Instead it was the beginning of their comeback.
It also confused this poor Caps fan:


That alone puts that goal at the top of Letang's highlight list.



This was another tough one.
Tyler Kennedy came into his own during the 2008-2009 season.
His play alongside Jordan Staal and Matt Cooke is a huge reason the Pens won the Cup.
We almost went with his goal in game four against Detroit.
A brilliant passing play led to the insurance goal that sealed the deal for Pittsburgh.
It was a thing of beauty.
But he also scored the game winner in game six:


Tyler Kennedy got himself open, grabbed the puck, drove to the net and forced it past Osgood.
It was another goal generated by hard work and beating the opposing team to the puck.
Those kinds of goals won the Pens the Stanley Cup.



He signed with Edmonton last month and, we'll be honest, we almost made that his highlight.
Minard may actually get a chance to play on the Oilers.
However, his only goal with the Pens last season was the game winner against the Rangers.


It was a nice shot by Minard that showed what he's capable of.



Garon's biggest contribution came when he replaced Marc-Andre Fleury in game five.
He was solid in net and ended the bloodbath of that game.
Sadly, this is the only clip of his play in that game we could find on YouTube:


Even more sadly, that clip also contains Marian Hossa's greatest highlight of the Final.



Goligoski will likely find a permanent place on the Penguins blue line next season.
In 2008-2009 he played in 45 games before being sent down, mostly because his contract allowed him to head to the AHL without going through waivers.
He showed a lot of promise in those games, especially with his two goal, one assist performance against Buffalo.


His goals come at 2:15 and 4:22.
Despite playing in just over half the season Goligoski finished third in scoring among rookie defensemen.



Zigomanis only played 22 games for Pittsburgh but his faceoff ability alone made him a valuable asset.
He scored two goals for the Pens.
This was his first:


Solid player.


Disco Dan obviously isn't a player, so he doesn't have an on-ice highlight.
The highlight of his season was definitely when he was named the new coach of the Penguins.
However, that doesn't appear to be on YouTube, so instead we have the day the Pens dropped the "interim" tag from his name.




Go Pens.