When told of the Penguins’ Game 4 starter, Marc-Andre Fleury disappeared, once again graciously relinquishing the crease to Matt Murray, Pittsburgh’s presently healthy, and always preferred, puck stopper. Having watched a championship run from the end of the bench last year when Murray surfaced from the minor leagues, and then serving as the backup this season while at the same time managing the ever-present threat of a trade proposal – which would have truly tested his team-first mentality – Fleury was called upon after warmups in Game 1 of the first round when the Penguins’ hot, upstart netminder went down with an injury. In that moment, Fleury launched an unlikely Conn Smythe Trophy bid.
The playoff failures of the Washington Capitals rarely come with silver linings anymore, but there was one positive to come out of this year’s postseason as a vocal leader emerged from the within the locker room. No, it wasn’t the captain, Alex Ovechkin, who seems to have more of a “lead by example” type of personality. Instead, it was the soft-spoken, oft overlooked and overshadowed Nicklas Backstrom who took up the mantle. “It's not very often, but when something needs to be said, Nick does a good job standing up and saying it and people listen,” T.J. Oshie said. Plenty needed be said in Washington’s second round series against the Pittsburgh Penguins. When the Caps lost both Games 1 and 2
So maybe, just maybe, we should feel a little better about the Bruins showing in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Bruins bowed out in six games in the first round to the Ottawa Senators as we all remember and they even had the built-in excuse that they were missing three of their top-four defensemen for pretty much the balance of the series once Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid and Brandon Carlo went out with an assortment of injuries. That doesn’t even count the surgeries that Patrice Bergeron and Tuukka Rask succumbed to after the season and the fact that David Krejci was a banged-up ghost in the series as well. But the Bruins played Ottawa tough and might have even been able to pull off the upset if