Just about the only thing that can be lost in a championship is the detail.
Oh, we'll remember Chris Kunitz's double-overtime flutter puck against the Senators. And we'd never be able to forget Patric Hornqvist's icebreaker that pushed the Penguins to their second consecutive Stanley Cup or, for that matter, the unbridled, childlike joy on the visitors' bench on that magical night in Music City.
But in the process of putting together this commemorative Stanley Cup championship section that we proudly release on this very Monday morning -- with exhaustive contributions from Josh Yohe, Matt Gajtka, photographer Matt Sunday, site manager Chris Orban and social media director Taylor Haase -- I was most moved by the moments that we might miss, that might slip away too soon.
Remember Marc-Andre Fleury's mask save in overtime against Columbus?
Jake Guentzel's look-at-me hat trick the same night?
The Capitals bouncing off Ian Cole every other shift?
Completing a hat trick of shaking hands with Alexander Ovechkin?
The passion, if you can appreciate both sides of a compelling story, of Craig Anderson?
That knowing look that Matt Murray gave immediately upon stepping onto the ice in Ottawa?
Nick Bonino completely breaking his tibia and still finishing the game?
The Nashville five-on-three in Game 6, when the Predators' defensemen were so discouraged by Matt Cullen's positioning that they flat-out refused to shoot?
The incredible, indefatigable fire of Sidney Crosby from the first shift of every game that really mattered?
The Cup is a cumulative achievement, more for this team than any I've covered. But it's still a compendium of individual moments ranging from an instruction to a drill to a strategy change to a 50/50 battle to a crisp pass to shooting so precise that it could emasculate two Vezina Trophy finalists. And all of that expertly weaved together by a head coach who, even in the most fishbowl profession in our culture, hardly ever seems to make a mistake.
Repeat after me, one final time: Never. Doubt. Mike. Sullivan.
The one moment I'll probably carry forever won't be the Hornqvist goal, the Kunitz goal or even seeing franchise icons join Mario Lemieux in raising the Cup a fifth time.
No, it'll be this ...
That, of course, was Justin Schultz's blast through a broken rib on an early power play in Game 5. The score would wind up 6-0, but Schultz's toughness, another exceptional goaltender being beaten down in Pekka Rinne, Crosby getting the first of three assists, the power play asserting itself ... that had it all, if it's coupled with the sound the crowd made.
Look at those fans up there.
Rick Tocchet beautifully called the reaction a 'Civic Arena roar,' a quote we'd use as our headline that night to describe what, to my ears, was the loudest I'd ever heard in that building. But it was more than that. This wasn't a crowd that came to smash cars, throw catfish or eyeball country music celebrities. They came with the same approach that most Pittsburgh crowds have: We're here to win, or we're going to leave here in one seriously lousy mood.
That's who we are. That's who they are.
These Penguins had a litany of excuses for why they should have lost. Not just this round, but all the others. No Kris Letang. Injuries all through the roster, more than any team in the playoffs. The natural fatigue of 213 games in 612 days, even including their bathroom break of an offseason. The adaptation to that fatigue offering opponents a chance to outshoot them versus the way it was a summer ago. The borderline bizarre situation with two beloved, talented No. 1 goaltenders.
Nothing stopped them, for the simple reason that they'd just keep bouncing back.
"The resiliency of this team," Cole told me that night on Nashville ice. "That's what I'll remember the most. The ability to take whatever challenge was presented to us and overcome it."
We'd never be able to do that story justice. No chapter of it, certainly not the bruised body of work. But we're proud to offer you with this special section our best effort, and we're prouder still that it was made possible by the subscribers and sponsors of this site.
We hope you enjoy the ride. All over again.
Oh, and when you're done with all the other material there, promise you'll come right back to this spot to check out this 12-minute, wholly unplanned nonstop video from ice level of the championship scene:
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