Ever have a dream where something terrible is happening, and whenever you try to scream, nothing comes out?
Welcome to last night’s game 7.
To say that the 5-2 schalacking last night was surreal is a gross understatement. The past few years, we haven’t really been used to seeing a team that wanted it more than the Penguins. For the first time in the Crosby/Malkin era, we saw it last night. Unfortunately, Fleury will be pegged in the media as the goat. It was inevitable if the Pens lost. However, to do that is unfair and irresponsible. It was the definition of a team loss. It seemed as if the team played as though it were a throw-away game in November for the first period and a half. By the time Halak had to make any difficult saves, the game was already out of control.
So it serves as an ignominious end to a glorious arena, and for the most part, a great season. However, when you’re able to step back and take a look at the Montreal series, it starts to make sense. No team (aside from maybe the Capitals) can out-gun the Penguins. The team that would dethrone them would be a team so comfortable in their own system that they never had to deviate from it. Enter the Montreal Canadiens. You could blame their run on them having a hot goaltender or a single dominant offensive force (Cammalleri), but they win because they function as one entity. There’s no reason to think they can’t win it all. Hats off to them.
Cue the start of a long off-season for the Pens, and the barrage of “What ifs?”
Come October, the Pens are likely to look a bit different. Smart money says that Gonchar, Fedotenko, Guerin, and Ponikarovsky will be long gone. Would have to believe the Pens will do whatever in their power to re-sign Matt Cooke and Mark Eaton.
Quick interjection: How great of a year/playoffs did Mark Eaton have?
What happens with McKee and Leopold remains to be seen. McKee was huge when he was called upon to fill in for Leopold, and it was clear upon Leopold’s return to the lineup against Montreal that he was not the same player. All of these things will make for an interesting off-season. Next year, I’m sure we’ll see plenty from guys like Mark Letestu, Chris Connor, Eric Tangradi, Nick Johnson and other young talent from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Should make it a lot of fun. Pens fans should still have a lot to be excited about.
Don’t waste your time comparing it to 1993 or 1996. The core of this team is all 25 or younger. There is much left in the tank, and I have faith that we will see a rejuvenated and re-motivated Penguins team in 2010-11.
Always keep the faith.
The Civic Arena will live forever in our hearts.