People will point to the downfall of the Penguins against the Canadiens and site numerous different reasons for the failure.
Halak stole the show
Fleury didn't step up
Cammaleri could not be contained
Crosby and Malkin couldn't score
The Habs took advantage of Penguin mistakes
The Penguins couldn't take advantage of the Canadien's mistakes
The Habs defense stifled our offense
The Pens defense handed over the puck...too many times to count
The Habs power play scored critical goals
The Penguins power play couldn't score when they needed to
The Habs Penalty Kill was great
The Pens Penalty kill couldn't kill when needed
The Habs won critical face offs
The Pens lost critical face offs
I am guessing by now you see the trend...
Aside from shots on goal and hits, the Canadiens outplayed the Penguins in just about every other facet of the game...if not throughout the entire series, then at least at the times in the series that mattered most.
And when the stars needed to shine, they did from the Canadiens side of the ice, not Pittsburgh's.
In fact, after game 1, the Penguins did a pretty good job of serving themselves up...on a Silver Platter...to the Habs. Right up until game seven of the series, when they went one step further...and offered desert too.
Some people are perplexed by this outcome.
How could the "former" defending champions, not step up, at the critical time, and win this game?
How could they be beaten by the 8th seeded Canadiens who barely made the playoffs?
I, for one, am not that surprised.
Coming into this series you could see how much the Canadiens "BELIEVED" in their approach, I wrote about it here:
Any team playing as well as they were and having the faith in each other was going to be difficult to defeat.
It was obvious to me that the Penguins were in for a fight.
A lot of that was based on having watched the Penguins this entire year and wondering if they could get back to playing the way they did at the end of last season and into last year's playoffs. As the end of this season approached and as this year's playoffs started, I was not convinced they would do it...as evidenced here:
Two Sides to a Coin: http://my.hockeybuzz.com/..._id=6464&post_id=9449
Let's Hope It's 1992 All Over Again: http://my.hockeybuzz.com/..._id=6464&post_id=9489
Wake Up...Or Hit The Snooze Bar: http://my.hockeybuzz.com/..._id=6464&post_id=9521
To me, last night's loss was actually the culmination of what has been a season long process. One that has seen the Penguins never truly achieve the level of play necessary to win in the playoffs...and one that has seen the root of structured play (established by the much chastised former coach Michel Therrien) slowly slip away as the season and playoffs progressed.
It was as if the flightless bird was a slowly simmering meal...that was finally served last night to the Canadiens...on a Silver Platter.
Obviously...a bit of an attempt at artistic journalism there.
It might be unfair to put it in those terms, but in a lot of ways, it's more true than not.
And isn't there just a little irony here in that the Penguins lost to the Canadiens, who employed a structured approach against us...and it seemed that our lack of structure at critical times is what did us in? A little Michel Therrien would have helped this season.
All in all, it's been a great 3 years...last night aside...and I am thankful for what the Penguins have done.
I can't help but feel they are a pretty worn out bunch...they have played a lot of hockey in the past three years...and that something like this was bound to happen sooner or later.
I also can't help but feel that this was needed.
They definitely have the core of a team that can challenge for the cup each year if they play their best. And maybe this adversity is what it will take for them to get back to that "best" once again.
Thanks for 3 great years Pens!!
Looking forward to next year in the new building!!!
Congrats to the Habs on a job well done!!! Good Luck against the Boston/Philly winner!