Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Ian Cole will keeping his own blog throughout the course of the Stanley Cup Final against the Nashville Predators. Cole will check in regularly with behind-the-scenes access.
Cole, 28, is in his second full season with the Penguins. They acquired him in a trade with the St. Louis Blues on March 2, 2015. He won the Stanley Cup with the Penguins last season and played in 81 games, scoring 26 points, this season.
In his first entry following the Penguins' 5-3 win against the Predators in Game 1 at PPG Paints Arena on Monday, Cole talks about how much he is enjoying being back in the Stanley Cup Final.
PITTSBURGH -- This is special to be back here, back in the Stanley Cup Final, again.
In my first full year here in Pittsburgh after being traded from St. Louis we go and win the Stanley Cup. That's amazing, but it is because the team we have here is so close and the character we built and showed coming through last year was special.
We knew going into this season that we had an opportunity to continue that and we were very excited about that. And throughout the year everything obviously went well. We had a really good season. We finished second in the League. It was great.
And if you can sense the "but" there, here it comes.
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But throughout the season everybody just wanted to get back into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Everybody just couldn't wait for the playoffs to come around.
You play in the Stanley Cup Final and the intensity of the regular season the following season, it's just not even close. That's why everyone was just so excited to get back in the playoffs, get going with the high intensity.
To get back here to the Cup Final, the first time you say it's a dream come true and the second time it still feels that way. This opportunity, and everyone in the room can sense it, it's something we absolutely do not want to pass up.
There have been teams that win the Stanley Cup and they don't even make the playoffs the following year. That was never a fear for us. Everyone was very confident that we could at the very least make the playoffs, but don't forget it's a long year, followed by a short summer, followed by another long year.
There were stretches when we struggled to get energy, struggled to play with the energy that we need to play with, the energy we showed the year before, coming back after a tough start.
But with the talent we have in this room and the character we have in this room we can step up and, even when we're tired, still get the job done. Sure, Kris Letang goes down, but Justin Schultz steps up and runs the power play unit like everyone expected that he could do.
Situations like that, with guys stepping up, has kind of been our story all year.
Speaking of Letang going out, we knew all the storylines when it happened. Heck, we knew all the storylines last year with Letang. They'd say the Penguins have Letang, but nobody else. This year they're saying they don't have Letang so they don't have anybody.
We're very content with that. It certainly makes you want to prove people wrong, but it's not a sticking point where I think anyone is too broken up about it. We're all motivated to go out and prove people wrong, to show we can play an efficient, steady game, get the pucks to our forwards and let them do the work.
We did it all year. Now we're back in the Stanley Cup Final. We have to do it for three more wins so we can win the Cup again.
Can we taste it? I don't want to go there, but we're very happy to have the opportunity to have the chance to compete in the Stanley Cup Final. That's really all you can ask for as a hockey player, as a professional athlete, the chance to compete for a championship. We all cherish it.