Our Stanley Cup player reviews: Crosby, Osgood, Malkin and more

June, 13, 2009

DETROIT -- Evgeni Malkin won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP, but here's a review of all the top players from the Stanley Cup finals:

• Chris Osgood
Although he may have strayed just a little too far to his right, giving Maxime Talbot room to snap home the game winner, you could hardly blame Osgood for the Wings' loss in the Cup finals. He gave up just four goals in four home games and it still wasn't good enough. Still, this playoff run should finally put to rest any notion that Osgood isn't a world-class goaltender. It will be interesting to see whether Osgood receives an invitation from Canadian Olympic team executive director (and former teammate) Steve Yzerman for the country's orientation camp in Calgary, Alberta, in August.

• Henrik Zetterberg
Zetterberg was considered by many to be the Wings' best player throughout the playoffs even if his point production dropped off from last postseason, when he tied Sidney Crosby with 27 points and earned the Conn Smythe Trophy. As good as he was at shutting down Crosby during this year's finals (Crosby had one goal and two assists in the series), Zetterberg also ended up leading the Wings in Cup finals scoring with six points. But it wasn't enough.

• Nicklas Lidstrom
Hard to criticize a guy who is the best defenseman of his generation and was playing hurt after taking a shot in the groin area in the Western Conference finals. Still, it was telling that in both Games 6 and 7, when Lidstrom had chances to put away tying goals, he was just a hair off. In Game 7, Fleury managed to thrust his body in front of Lidstrom's shot with time running out. Does a younger Lidstrom get there quicker? Hard to tell, but obviously it was a disappointing end for one of the game's classiest players.

• Evgeni Malkin
When Crosby went down with an injury early in the second period of Game 7, Malkin was forced to shoulder more of the load. Although he did not score in Games 6 or 7, he did lead the Penguins with eight points in the series and put to rest any lingering questions folks might have had after he hit the wall late in last season's playoff run.

"I think he answered the bell," Crosby said of Malkin. "I'm thinking he's pretty happy and people realize how great a player he is. This isn't an easy time of year. You've got to find ways to battle through and he did that all playoffs long."

• Sidney Crosby
Perhaps the mark of the young man as a captain and a leader was that, even though his knee would not allow him to play (he played one shift in the third in Game 7 after getting hit in the second frame), Crosby knew enough not to put his team at risk by continuing to take shifts. Still, he did insist on being on the bench throughout.

"It was painful. It was so painful," Crosby said of watching. "At the same time, I had all the confidence in the world these guys were going to do it. You don't get this far without each guy stepping up in certain situations."

• Marc-Andre Fleury
For all of the questions about Fleury, he delivered the goods in Games 6 and 7, allowing just two goals on 50 shots in backstopping the Pens to a Stanley Cup. Hard to imagine he won't be given a good look by Yzerman and the Canadian Olympic brass after clutch performances like that.

"He's a great friend of mine. I'm so happy and you can quote me on that. Fleury is a winning goaltender right now," Max Talbot said. "Everybody's always saying, 'Oh, we're not sure. He never won anything.' But you know what, he proved to everybody that he's a winning goaltender and I'm so happy for that. And that's going to stay with him."

Scott Burnside

ESPN Senior Writer



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