Pittsburgh Penguins fans have their own unique name for winger James Neal. They call him “The Real Deal,” and that’s exactly what he has been in the last two games for the Penguins. As Pittsburgh outscored the Ottawa Senators 13-5 to eliminate them, Neal scored five goals and two assists.
After a slow start to the second-round series against the Senators, Neal has shown the “hockey gods” that he wants a Stanley Cup. In the last two games, he performed even better than star players Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Neal had a hat trick Friday night in Game 5 when the Penguins clinched the series and advanced to the Eastern Conference final for the first time since they won their third Stanley Cup in 2009. He now has six goals and four assists in nine games this postseason,
Neal’s goals Friday night were just awesome. For his first one, he banged on Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson’s skate and the puck went in. The second goal was when he stole a puck from ex-Penguin Sergei Gonchar and put a wrist shot over Anderson’s shoulder.
The third and final goal was absolutely disgusting. Neal came into the zone and did a little toe drag against defending Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson and he wristed a shot past Anderson. It was one of the sickest goals of his career.
James Neal is back, everyone. He will score more goals like these in the conference final and hopefully in the Stanley Cup Final. Maybe he’s saving his best for then. We will just have to sit back and find out what “The Real Deal” has for us.