Here we are once again, another Pittsburgh Penguins season lies in ruin after what it now their 5th straight playoff loss to a lower seeded team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
After screaming ahead to a 3-1 series lead, it appeared Sidney Crosby and the Pens had this series all but sewn up.
Unfortunately for them, they seemed to forget that it takes four wins to clinch a series. After letting the Rangers back into things with lackluster efforts in games five and six, Pittsburgh came out strong in game seven, playing a relatively evenly matched game with the Rangers.
However, as has become the case for the Penguins in recent postseasons, it was too little too late. Henrik Lundqvist proved to everyone in attendance at Consol Energy Center why he is the best goalie on the planet, and, on the back of an emotional Martin St. Louis, the Blueshirts dealt a 2-1 death blow to the Pens.
A team that looked offensively dominant early on went stagnant at the worst possible time, scoring just three goals over the final games.
Sidney Crosby had just one goal and two assist in seven games against New York. Evgeni Malkin had three, but was held scoreless in games six and seven.
Oddly enough, goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who usually plays the role of goat in Pittsburgh’s offseason failures, was one of the Penguins’ best players.
His .916 save percentage was his best postseason mark since 2008 when they lost in six games to Detroit, and while he wasn’t lights-out, he didn’t lose it for them. He gave them a chance to win, and the Penguins could not get it done.
It’s a team that was doomed from the start, but that doesn’t make it any less painful for the Penguins and their fans.
Needles to say, big changes are coming in the offseason for Pittsburgh.
Dan Bylsma will most likely be gone, along with about a half-dozen different players. A shake up is coming, and no ones job is safe.
But we will cross that bridge when we come to it. Right now, some serious soul-searching must be done, both by the players, and by management.