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TimeJun 13, 2017

Penguins v Predators - Game 6 Highlights - Penguins Defensemen Earn Respect and Cup

Photo: Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire

It took 58:25 for a goal to be scored in Game Six of the Stanley Cup Finals, but when the final buzzer sounded 95 seconds later, the Penguins had out played the Predators by a convincing 41% margin on way to their second Stanley Cup in as many years.

Predator fans will point to the disallowed second period goal as the turning point, but in games five and six of the Finals, the Penguins averaged a 65% play-by-play over the Predators.

Pittsburgh’s forwards finished the game with a 38% advantage over their Nashville counterparts but the bigger story in game six was the continued rise of the Penguins defensemen, who as a group outperformed the Predator blue line by 47%, after a 45% advantage in game five.

The rise of Pittsburgh’s defensemen coincided with the pullback of Nashville’s blue line, as fatigue may have factored in as the series worn on. Average ice time in the series for Predator defensemen was between 11 and 25 minutes, while the Penguins were a more balanced 18 to 22 minutes.

With no 'do it all' defensemen, the Penguins deployed their blue line in more specialist rolls, which can ease both the physical and mental demands in the grind of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Penguins as a team also ramped up their positive defensive contributions in game six by 32% over their series average.

Contribution Leaders

Pittsburgh Forwards

1. Sydney Crosby led the next best forward in the game by 49% in play-by-play contributions and stamped his name on his second consecutive Conn Smythe Trophy.

2. Patrick Hornqvist turned into an offensive catalyst for the Penguins on a night when Malkin and Kessel were relatively quiet. Besides scoring the Stanley Cup winning goal, his offensive contributions were 180% above his series average.

3. Jake Guentzel performed 6% above his series average and tripled his defensive contributions in game six.

Pittsburgh Defensemen

1. Ron Hainsey had an exceptional game on both sides of the puck, increasing his overall contributions by four times over his series average.

2. Ian Cole and 3. Brian Dumoulin had a great defensive game, and along with Hainsey, flipped the script and posted lofty contribution numbers in the same ballpark as the leading Predator defensemen did through much of the playoffs.

Predator Forwards

1. Colton Sissons will be hearing whistles in his sleep and missed a few great chances but was by far the leading Predator forward offensively.

2. Mike Fisher created much less than Sissons offensively but was among the leaders defensively.

3. Filip Forsberg was 16% below his series average in game six, most of which was attributed to a few defensive miscues. His offensive contributions were almost identical to his series average.

Predator Defensemen

1. Mattias Ekholm elevated his game by 66% over his series average, consisting mostly of an increase in offensive plays which are seldom seen from him.

1. Roman Josi was second among Nashville defensemen but it was his weakest game of the series. His contributions were less than half of his series average and well back of Ekholm.

3. Ryan Ellis made the line up despite doubts about his health and availability but still managed to be in the top three. He led the Predator blue line defensively but was not as dialed in moving the puck as he usually is.

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