Sergei Gonchar: The Winning Factor
In the above photo you see great sportsmanship in the infamous hockey handshake, after Ovechkin hit Gonchar knee-to-knee earlier in the series.
After playing over 27 minutes a game in the first three series games against the Capitals, a very scary incident occurred in Game Four after the Pittsburgh Penguins' power-play quarterback scored his first goal of the series. Alexander Ovechkin goes to hit Gonchar and "accidentally" makes knee-to-knee contact, thus seeing Gonchar in an immense amount of pain. All Pens' fans at the moment had some form of doubt if their Penguins can win without him. Gonchar played only six minutes before he had to get helped off the ice.
Sergei missed Games Five and Six in which the Pens split with the Washington Capitals. With Gonchar out that allowed the pens to call-up Alex Goligoski and unscratch Boucher. Neither of which played in any of the previous playoff games.
From the inside source I have—knowing Gonchar's trainer personally, I can tell you all Gonchar played through all the pain using Cortisone shots, a brace, and several other techniques to help him play as much as he could to help his team in Game Seven.
Gonchar said before the game "It's a Game Seven I'm gonna play." This shows his dedication and heart to help his team no matter how much pain he is in. Personally, I feel just having Gonchar dressed, the Penguins would win. He just has that leadership that rubs off on everybody. I have to give credit where credit is due, one of the biggest factors was Rob Scuderi playing his best hockey of his career. Hands down Scuderi is top three for the best Defensive Defensemen this year.
The Penguins are now waiting to see who they will play along with the Chicago Blackhawks as the Pens will play the winner of the Boston—Carolina series, and Chicago will play the winner of the Detriot—Anaheim. Best of luck to all teams as this has been the best playoffs of the last 10 years.
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