Can we get a do-over? A mulligan of sorts? Anything?
It’s a pretty shitty feeling knowing your team has already lost whenever it’s 4-0, and it’s not even 13 minutes into the 1st period of a game. Typically with the Penguins, any time an opponent jumps out to a big lead early in the game, you know in the back of your mind that this team has the ability to come back and win. Sure, it doesn’t happen every time, but that glimmer of hope usually tends to stay alive until the final buzzer sounds.
Last night did not feel that way, though. And ultimately, last night did not end that way. The Pens got the shit kicked out of them.
We’re now struck with the reality that the Penguins find themselves down 2-1 in the Eastern Conference Finals. This series certainly isn’t over by any means, but I’m not sure anyone predicted the series to look this way after three games, either. I’m not saying the Senators aren’t a good team. They definitely are and they (sort of) deserve to be in the Eastern Conference Finals right now. They just aren’t of the same caliber as the Penguins, though. I know that sounds arrogant, but that’s the reality. From top to bottom, the Penguins are a way better team. They’re faster, they’re more skilled, and they’re deeper.
Last night, however, the Penguins didn’t look the better team by any measure. They appeared like a team that’s gassed from playing 203 games (regular and postseason combined) over the past year and a half. We can sit here and point the finger a number of directions. Is Sid okay? Is Fleury’s postseason brilliance evaporating? Are the injuries starting to become too much to overcome? But the fact of the matter is, the Sens outworked, outhit, and, ultimately, (by a large margin) out-scored the Penguins last night. Now those boring sonsabitches from up north find themselves two wins away from a dance with Lord Stanley while everyone in Pittsburgh is hitting the panic button and debating whether or not it should be Marc Andre Fleury or Matt Murray in net for Game 4. Unsettling times to be a yinzer this morning, indeed.
As far as the goalie debate goes, let’s face it, Fleury looked putrid last night. Giving up 4 goals in 9 shot attempts isn’t exactly a stellar performance. I still can’t see Sully giving up on him yet, though. Murray looked pretty damn solid (stopping 20 of 21 shots) for not playing in over a month, but you go with the guy that’s got you to this point. Without Fleury, the Penguins aren’t playing in the Eastern Conference Finals. People seem to have quickly forgotten that (and that’s coming from somebody that’s been on Team Murray for over a year, by the way). And as far as the rest of the team’s concerned, maybe scoring more than one goal per game this series would help. Seems like a solid strategy to win games, imo. It would be nice if the league’s highest scoring team in the regular season decided to do that again. Just a thought.
Pens in 6.