When this series started, I truy believed the Penguins could compete with the Senators. The teams played such close games during the regular season that it seemed almost impossible for the series not to go 6 or 7 games. (still trying to get my foot out of my mouth from that prediction...)
What happened during the playoffs was plain and simple -- the Senators had an extra "gear" and the Penguins simply did not.
After a game 1 baptism, the Penguins did not appear to be a first year playoff team -- they simply appeared to be a team that could not play as well or be as consistent as it's opponent.
People will analyze the series and will conclude the single most glaring problem the Penguins had was an inability to score on the numerous power play chances they had in games 3 through 5. They will point to the regular season and say that the power play was a key to the team's success and it simply was not there to bail them out in the playoffs.
While I agree that the team definitely suffered from it's power play woes, I think that only part of the blame, at MOST half, can fall on the Penguins. A good deal of credit goes to the Senators for simply shutting the Penguins down.
And that really is what the Senators did in almost all aspects of the game...they shut the Penguins down.
They were stronger on the penalty kill...they simply got to the lose pucks faster and were in better position to defend.
They were stronger at even strength...by generating more scoring chances, more shots on goal and...more goals.
Their power play scored some key goals and their goaltender played solid throughout the series.
Yeah, in the final anlaysis, the Penguins were taught a lot of lessons in these 5 games.
The Penguins shouldn't feel badly though. The Senators are a REALLY GOOD team. Just how good remains to be seen...but I think they have what it takes to make this year, THE YEAR.
If the hockey gods are listening...please let us see Ottawa and Buffalo in the conference finals (no offense to the other teams in the mix).
Congratulations to the Senators and Good Luck the rest of the way!!!