Not really an ideal day to be a Penguins fan as the team was ousted from the playoffs with a tough 5-1 loss to the Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center. I am typing this up after the game and I am pretty calm for the most part. I guess I kind of figured the Penguins weren’t going to win the series after they were down 3-0 and even when they won games four and five I just didn’t have a good feeling. I guess we should have known what type of game it was going to be when Claude Giroux scored just 32 seconds into the game.
The Penguins just couldn’t get anything going and you have to give all the credit in the world to the Flyers as they played some pretty amazing defense and pretty much did it all by blocking a ton of shots. They blocked a total of 40 shots in the game with four players having six or more blocked shots, who were all defensemen. That was the difference in the game. In the recap from game five I talked about the Penguins blocking a ton of shots and getting into the lanes as why they were getting wins and that is exactly what the Flyers did and they won. No huge surprise.
A reoccurring theme this series continued as the Flyers were able to limit the Penguins big stars to virtual invisibility. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin played good for stretches in the series but the Flyers really did a nice job to keep them contained and to frustrate the hell out of them. They were not good at all and when the Penguins needed someone to lead on the ice they were nowhere to be found. Claude Giroux was the exact opposite for the Flyers as he was the top player and he made the big plays when the Flyers needed it.
Marc Andre Fleury wasn’t great today and despite how well he played in game four and five that couldn’t translate into another good start by the Flower. He gave up a few softies today and with a game that was going to be won with defense you couldn’t get behind the eight ball and that is exactly what happened. This shouldn’t take away from the season he had because it was really his best of his professional career but he is not the goaltender that we saw in the playoffs in my opinion. There have been some talk that Flower hasn’t been good since he got blasted in the head by Paul Martin in the stretch run of the regular season but I would expect him to come back and be good next year.
Not going to get into this too much but I do have some overall thoughts on the series. Let’s not kid ourselves, the Flyers were the worst possible match up for the Penguins. I know this is an after the fact kind of statement but I think the Penguins probably beat any other team in the East if they would have played in the first round. The Flyers have just as much talent as the Penguins and they overall are probably a deeper team than the Penguins. Going down three games to none was just a death wish.
That being said I do not have a problem with how the NHL does its playoff system. With the division format I think you have to reward the teams that win their respective divisions in some capacity so I think the top three seeds should be given out accordingly. The Penguins could have avoided this whole mess by winning the division.
I also saw some people saying that this is the most disappointing playoff loss in Pittsburgh sports history. I couldn’t disagree with that more. Sure, this was a Stanley Cup favorite going in but the Penguins are now 4-8 against the Flyers this season. Why is it so shocking that the Flyers won this series? Does it suck? Yea, it does suck but let’s not sit here and pretend like the Penguins just got ousted by the Blue Jackets. Like I said before the Flyers are just as talented as the Penguins and sometimes you team doesn’t win. The Penguins have not performed well in the playoffs since their Stanley Cup winning season but this season they just ran into the wrong team.
Dan Bylsma is not getting fired. End of story.
The Penguins are probably going to have to make some tough decisions in the offseason and I have no idea where that will even start. I am sure there will be a lot of discussion about the defense and how it needs to improve but I would not be shocked to see some moves. Guys like Simon Despres and Brian Strait really played some good hockey in the playoffs and that might figure into the decision but it should be interesting to see what happens in the upcoming months.
The loss stings but like I always say if the Penguins losing a series to the Flyers is my biggest problem then I have a pretty good life.