Thursday, May 13, 2010

Where Did It All Go Wrong?

Now that we have all had one full day to get all the screaming and head-banging out of our systems, I think its time we take one final look at where it all went wrong for the Pens in Game 7. What's important to remember, though, that this upset was brewing since Game 4 but was brushed aside by nearly everyone after the win in Game 5. Montreal stole the momentum away in Game 4, managed to control the damage from Game 5, and then really took control of the momentum with a comeback win in Game 6. All this aside, however, lets take a brief look at what happened to cause the Game 7 letdown.

-GOALTENDING- Everyone thought that after 6 hard fought games and a tough 7 games beforehand, there was no way Jaroslav Halak could continue to play at the level he was. He proved all of those people quite wrong, however, by playing even better than he was. Halak made some incredible "point-blank" saves on the Pens that stopped their comeback in its tracks. As for Fleury, he was nearly golden all series long, but picked a very bad day for his first really bad game.

-STRIKE EARLY AND OFTEN- The Pens' momentum was killed nearly right off the bat when Sidney Crosby was put in the penalty box for a "boarding" (or so it was called on the ice) call 10 seconds into the game. This, combined with another delayed penalty on Pittsburgh, gave the Canadiens a quick goal 30 seconds into the game. They would never look back after that.

-CONDITIONING- The Canadiens flat-out outworked the Pens in Games 6 and 7. The Pens looked like a wounded animal, and though they still got a large number of shots on goal, they were constantly getting beat to the smaller battles to the puck. They also had trouble finishing their checks consistently. This, by itself, seems rather insignificant, but after 2 games of getting outworked like that it does take a toll on the team.

-WHERE'S CROSBY? MALKIN?- The Canadiens were excellent in shutting down the dynamic duo from the Pens, constantly "smothering" them and keeping them out of the action. This was especially true for Crosby, who was unable to free himself from Hal Gill assigned to stay on him constantly.

Well, that officially closes the book for the Pittsburgh Penguins 2009-2010 season. It was a season of ups and downs, emotional goodbyes and fresh young faces. It was a season of high Stanley Cup repeat hopes, and sadly a bitter ending. Nonetheless, the Pens again made the playoffs in a top 5 seed for the fourth year in a row. Sidney Crosby tied for the Rocket Richard Trophy, and is currently nominated for the Hart. Jordan Staal received a Selke Trophy nomination and showed why he may be the toughest man in the NHL. So, Congratulations Pens on giving your fans another exciting year and lots to cheer about. And one final goodbye to the Pens old home Mellon Arena. So long old pal, we'll never forget the many memories you gave us. Lets take one final glimpse at the 2009-2010 Pens because its moving forward from here.

Lets Go Pens

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