Is This the Most Embarrassing Playoff Exit in Pens History?
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06-09-2013, 08:15 AM
Join Date: Apr 2013
The writing was on the wall back in the regular season. A perfect storm of things came together to give the Pens and their fans the ILLUSION that this team was "unstoppable" and that they would easily roll to the Cup.
Kunitz-Crosby-Dupuis started off the season tearing up the league. They spent the entire offseason together building chemistry and figuring out each other's tendencies. For the first half of the season, the rest of the league was still shaking off the rust and it made that line look miles ahead of any other line. EVERYONE, including the players themselves overrated that line. Once the rest of the league hit their stride, we saw the production of that line really drop off.
After looking like a very average team for a while at the beginning of the season, Vokoun spoke up and told them to stop playing dumb and then they went on that 15 game winning streak. That streak really sent the hype machine into overdrive. This was before the trade deadline and everyone was already anticipating a big move or two from Shero. They felt that the team was already dominating and adding another piece or two would make them world beaters.
And that leads us to the trade deadline. Shero pulls the trigger on Morrow. Some people like the move, noting his "veteran presence" and "grit. Others don't like it because of what the Pens gave up. Then came Murray. Everyone loves the move because Murray is a mountain of a man that can throw checks with the best of them. Everyone is convinced that our blueline just got better. Then the big one, Iginla. The most coveted prize at the deadline decides to come to Pittsburgh to win the Cup that has eluded him for years. The fan base goes nuts. There is "no way that the Pens can lose now". The sports media up the hype even more by calling the Pens the most stacked team in decades. Confidence is at an all time high....or should I say OVERconfidence...Then we find out about Martin going down with a broken wrist.
Iggy's first game in Pittsburgh and Sid breaks his jaw. An omen? Perhaps. Everyone anticipated that Iggy would play with him and so they would just have to wait to see if that was the case. The Pens go back to looking mediocre for a few games and the streak is over. Everyone shrugs it off as the new guys just needing to assimilate to the system. No big deal.
Then the Pens go on a 7 game winning streak. Everyone is back on cloud nine. "Once Sid gets back, the Pens are going to roll".
Then Malkin goes down with what appeared to be a shoulder injury that nagged him into the playoffs. Then Neal goes down. Sid, Geno, Martin, and Neal, all out and the Pens are still winning. More over confidence from the fans, and apparently the organization. "When all these guys get back, look out NHL".
So Neal, Martin, and Geno are back for the end of the regular season and Neal nets a hat trick. "He's back!" The Pens see that the Isles are their 1st round opponents, and apparently, just like the fans, thought that it would be a cakewalk. Game 1 furthers that notion and many fans are crowing "SWEEP". Then, reality sets in. The Isles push back and make the Pens look very bad at times. Of course Fleury imploded and it was everyone to lay all the blame at his feet. Never mind all the other issues that surfaced, everyone just thought that Fleury was the problem and once he was on the bench, they were good to go. So they pull the series out, Vokoun is praised as a savior, and they are ready to roll into round 2.
The Sens series really got everyone thinking that the Pens were unstoppable. They lit up the Sens, the PP was clicking, and Vokoun and the d were shutting the Sens down. The media was raving about how the Pens were scoring more goals per game than any team in the last 25 years. Everyone got to the point in which they thought that the Pens would just overpower any team that they came up against.
Then comes Boston, a team with a system that requires every player to know their roles and where they need to be on the ice at all times. A solid d corps and a great goaltender. After beating the Bruins 3 times in the regular season BY BEATING THEM AT THEIR OWN GAME, apparently Bylsma and the boys decided to ride the wave of offense eruption and play a wide open, firewagon style game against them in game 1. Apparently the plan was to shell the Bruins early and often, pot a few goals, and then force the Bruins to play catch up, taking them out of their trap and opening things up more for the Pens. Only one problem, the "most stacked" team in decades, complete with three 50 goal scorers, one 40 goal scorer, and one of the most offensive defensemen in the game, couldn't bury just ONE of their chances. The Bruins eventually drew first blood, the "leaders" on the team got frustrated and blew their stacks at the end of the 2nd period, and from that point on Boston knew that they were in the Pens' heads. Their plan from that point on was to play their trap style of game, right from the puck drop, and just bide their time and wait. Take everything away from the Pens, target Sid and Geno, stay in position and don't allow any odd man rushes or cross ice passes to get through. Just keep frustrating the Pens and wait for their opportunity to score. And there was the difference. The Pens couldn't get anything to go, were getting frustrated and started forcing things, and the Bruins just waited for their chances to materialize. They didn't force anything, just let it come to them, and they buried their chances. By the time the Pens started playing Boston's style of play, they had already spotted them 2 games AT HOME and the implosion had already begun.
We can talk about bad bounces and bad officiating until we're blue in the face, but the Pens beat themselves in this series because of overconfidence and arrogance. Had they played the way that they beat them 3 times in the regular season, we probably wouldn't be posting on this thread right now, but instead, they bought into the hype and thought that their offense was unstoppable and so they tried that approach instead. And so he we are.
Some problems that haven't been solved in the past few years:
Kunitz-Crosby-Dupuis is not a top line in the playoffs and never will be.
The refusal to park anyone in front of the net, especially on the PP, makes life really easy for the opposing goalie. Too easy.
The stupid, zone d that the Pens continue to run with. I am TIRED pf watching everyone allow the opposing team SO much time and space to wheel and deal in the defensive zone and get great chances.
Inability to beat the trap. 4 straight years and they still have no answer for it...
I hate to say it but Shero going "all in", the 15 and 7 game winning streaks, and Crosby's torrid scoring pace set all of this in motion, breeding overconfidence and a sense of entitlement from the fan base and the players. Case in point, Crosby's "we deserved better" remarks after the game.
It is pretty embarrassing to say the least. Most embarrassing? Perhaps. At least they were scoring in the Flyers series. Here, they looked like a club hockey team full of scrubs playing with each other for the first time. Bad passes, flubbed shots, missed nets, posts, terrible turnovers, etc. For having the "most stacked" offense in the league, they looked like they wouldn't have scored more than 2 goals in the series if Boston left the net open the whole time...
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