Since game one, everyone has been wondering what has gone wrong with the Pittsburgh Penguins. We've all struggled to understand why a team that has had so much success in the recent past has suddenly fallen apart. We've watched in horror as the team has become the complete opposite of everything we thought they were.
And we've all asked why. The problem is, no one knows.
These players - this exact same group of players - has been successful this year. It's not like they don't have the talent. It's not like they don't have the skill. It's not like they can't work together and succeed. We've seen them do it. We've seen them do it quite recently. Yet we've also seen them struggle. They're struggling horribly right now and no one knows why.
So it's natural that we all come up with our own reasons. Since the Penguins blew their 3-0 lead in game one, we've all desperately tried to figure out what is going on. Why is the defense falling apart? Why is the goaltending no longer solid? Why are the forwards suddenly so sloppy? Why has the team lost its cool? Why do the Pittsburgh Penguins look and feel like a completely different team?
No one knows.
Is it the system? Is it injuries? Is it fatigue? Is it locker room issues? Is it all of those things? Is it something completely different that no one has mentioned? There's no way for any of us to know and, honestly, it doesn't even look like the Penguins themselves know. Their brawling and violence and misdirected anger make it look like they're battling with this just as much as every fan is.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have been eliminated from the playoffs before, obviously. Every team has. But it hasn't been like this. Montreal wasn't this bad. Tampa Bay wasn't this bad. Those losses were nothing like the losses we've seen in this series. Yes, the Philadelphia Flyers are a talented hockey team. Yes, they match up against the Penguins better than possibly any other team in the league. But it's almost shocking how badly they've ripped apart the Pittsburgh Penguins this series.
Are they just that good? Or is something wrong with the Penguins? Is it both?
There's no way to know for sure. There will likely never be a way to know for sure. And there's nothing that we as fans can do about it. This is something that the Pittsburgh Penguins need to solve and it's starting to look like they might not be able to solve it. Because of that, we all feel a little helpless. We all want to figure out what's going on, even if it's just so that we can understand it ourselves. But we can't... and that's frustrating.
So we just wait for the next game. We wait and we look for anything at all that can help us understand what's going on. We grasp at straws. We read into things. We talk to one another and try to make sense of it. We write long, rambling blog posts like this one because we honestly don't know what else to do.
This isn't the team we supported all year. Why not?
Remember Michel Therrien's famous rant? Somewhat asked him what the solution was and he struggled to find an answer. That's where we all are right now. None of us know and we're all trying to come up with an answer. Hopefully someone in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization figures it out.