All Good Things…
Our pain is over.
The war that is the NHL Playoffs has chewed up and spat out another victim: The Pittsburgh Penguins. It’s hard in some ways to believe what has actually transpired. The Penguins were eliminated by the Boston Bruins in 4 games, getting swept for the first time since 1979 when the 3rd seeded Bruins swept the 8th seeded Pens.
The strangest part of the Pens stunning defeat is what caused it: A total lack of offense.
During the lockout-shortened regular season, the Pens were an offensive juggernaut. They scored 165 goals, ten more than the nearest team, the Chicago Blackhawks. They gave up the 6th fewest goals (119), which is testament to their puck control game. With 72 points, they came in 2nd for the President’s Trophy behind those Blackhawks. The Pens won EVERY game during the month of March, the first team ever to do so, and had a 7 game winning streak in April as well.
The Pens came out in the first round of the playoffs with Marc-Andre Fleury earning a 5-0 shutout, only to lose his game and falter in Game 2, losing 4-3. The defense was terrible in front of Fleury, completely forgetting how to play hockey. The series went back and forth until Coach Bylsma replaced Fleury with Tomas Vokoun. Pittsburgh won the next two games, the final of those being an overtime victory ended by a Brooks Orpik shot from the point.
In the second round, the Pens took on an Ottawa Senators team that really wasn’t ready for the high-scoring Pens. It took only 5 games, and while the defense was often still shaky, the offense was more than enough.
None of what we saw during the season, or in the playoffs to this point, could have prepared us for the total collapse of the offense against the Bruins. The team missed the net often, and when they got close to scoring, they hit post after post. They had only 2 goals during the series, and superstars Crosby and Malkin were held pointless. It was more than running into a hot goaltender. A hot goaltender has his lunch fed to him by this Pens team.
This Pens team beat themselves, plain and simple.
Everybody will have their opinions about where the Pens go from here, but it’s far too soon to pass judgment. Besides, it’s not like this is a bad team. They accomplished so much this season, only to falter so close to the end.
It’s a shame. It really is.
All good things must come to an end.
So must this…
Goodbye playoff beard. We will meet again.