If you can apply the words “Always” and “Never” to your team's playoff series, then you know it went wrong. Example:
“The Penguins are ALWAYS on the powerplay. But they NEVER score”
“The Penguins ALWAYS came out guns blazing in the first period. But they NEVER could score.”
“Ryan Malone was ALWAYS a dick, but the Pens NEVER got him out of MAF’s mouth.”
You get the point. This series was Always and Never.
The Penguins were Always going to be in this series, but they Never were going to win it.
When we look back on this series all summer, we will remember three things:
The series-changing Game 5 embarrassment.
The Penguins going 1-for-34 on the powerplay.
As we said, and as everyone probably feels, there is nothing worse than losing a playoff series.
Even if it is in your church's kickball league, it stings.
Where a lot of the sting lies from this playoff elimination is in the fact the Penguins were up 3-1 in the series. Going into the playoffs, no one had any expectations, given who was missing. But after James Neal’s OT goal in Game 4, a trip to the second round was so close you could vomit on it.
All the Penguins had to do was win one out of three games -- two of which were at home -- to advance.
And then came Game 5. A complete and utter beatdown by the Lighthing and the turning point of the series. Game 5 was a nightmare. And it was also a wake-up call for the Lightning. There just was no recovering from it.
The other major issue was the powerplay, and we’re sure it will be discussed at incredible lengths over the next 6 months, as it should be. Anytime you go 1-for-34 at something, you’re fucked. That is no different here.
Look back at the Stanley Cups run in '09. Almost every single series had a huge powerplay goal you can think of off the top of your head.
Bill Guerin’s Game 2 OT goal against the Flyers in the second round.
Crosby’s opening goal in Game 7 in Washington.
Gonch’s powerplay goal in Game 3 against the Wings was huge and gave the Pens the lead for good in that game.
The powerplay struggled all season long, so this didn't really come as a surprise. The Pens didn’t have their top guns, but dear God. If they had generated at least ONE MORE POWERPLAY GOAL, they may have won the series.
And it dragged us into Game 7. The Pens had the first three powerplays of Game 7. You could not have asked for anything better. They even had a powerplay with less than a minute to play.
But the powerplay failed, and for the next 6 months all we will think about is Dominic Moore making the same pass behind the net that he did in Game 6 to Sean Bergenheim.
Of all the people, it wasn’t St. Louis, Stamkos, Levajoke, Gagne.
It was Dominic Moore and Sean Bergenhem.
The first goal of Game 7 means everything usually. The Lightning sat on it the rest of the game.
The Penguins didn’t have a single odd-man break or breakaway the entire game.
Dominic Moore, man. Two straight years.
The Pens move to a shocking - choke city like - 2-6 in Game 7's
In an overview, there is much more good that will come out of this series than the initial stomach pain we felt moments after. The powerplay will be addressed, and addressed big-time. The Penguins completely ignored this issue, which has its roots in last season. Now Ray Shero will look at 1-for-34 all summer long.
The loss also gives Malkin and Crosby complete time to recover and stew on the fact they couldn’t be there to play. If you watched the Chicago/Vancouver series, there was a play in Game 7 that reminded us of Crosby and Malkin. It was the will of Jonathan Toews on the game-tying goal. He had the will -- and more importantly the skill -- to make an incredible individual effort to tie the game; a play only superstars make. The Penguins didn’t have that. But next year they will. Next year, half of the team won’t be hurt for 10 games at a time.
No questions asked, it's Martin St. Louis city. He didn’t really show up in the last few games, but that is probably because the Penguins did everything in their power to shut him down. By default, that opened better matchups. He kept the Lightning alive when they weren’t showing up. Unreal series for him considering that he can’t even ride roller coasters.
This one is tough, but as the rule pretty much goes, when a 3-1 series lead is blown, it falls on the coach.
We think Dan Bylsma did a hell of a job this season.
He should win the Jack Adams.
Iif he doesn’t, they shouldn’t award it anymore.
But the playoffs are a different story. It's true that Bylsma didn’t have a stable of guys to go to, but we’ll wonder for a while if he should have went with at least one lineup change in the final three games or maybe if he should have made at least one adjustment. Guy Boucher did. Boucher tightened up his D.
It may not have mattered, but when you blow a 3-1 series lead, the questions will linger for long after. Why not mix up the lines? Why go with Matt Mistakenan all series when he was on the ice for pretty much every big goal the Lightning scored?
Everyone's a coach, and everyone will say what they would have done differently, but it really does not matter at all. All we'll say is that there should have been some kind of move made after Game 5. Something. Anything.
After some time, we'll take a look back at this season.
There was 24/7, Crosby's streak, the Classic, Columbus.
It already cheers us up thinking about the ride we've all taken this season.
In the meantime, we still have Wilkes-Barre to follow.
They're preparing for the second round of the playoffs.
Nothing but thank-yous to everyone for every photoshop, e-mail, Twitter link, et cetera city.
The offseason will be normal. We’ll be covering the draft and free agency.
We already have a Crosby Rumors post ready for when he announces he is coming back.
We’re already pumped for next season.
We may not post anything until July 1st. Who knows.
Godspeed. See you in September.
--Derek, Adam, Rick, Eric, Stoosh, and Stephen S.