Well. I’ve had a couple days to process it… The Penguins playoff streak has finally come to an end, after three long seasons and a combined 307 hockey games, including 61 playoff games. What a wild ride.
Would I have loved for the Penguins to three-peat. No duh. Am I surprised they didn’t? Not at all. The Stanley Cup is the hardest Championship to win in sports, and to even be able to witness a back to back champion team is impressive as hell. Also just want to point out, when the Islanders did complete a three-peat, on their way to 4 in a row, The first round of the playoffs was only best-of-5, and in those rounds they beat LA 3-1 (1980), Toronto 3-0 (1981), Pittsburgh 3-2 (1982), and Washington 3-1 (1983)… So I’m not saying that the Islanders’ accomplishments amount to winning a couple knee hockey tournaments, but I’m not not saying that…
In the years between the Penguins ’09 win and ’17 win, people began to doubt if Crosby and Malkin could still do it. They thought that Pittsburgh was wasting their prime, and that their playoff contending years in the Burgh were over. I couldn’t count the number of times I read articles calling for Malkin to get traded, doubting Crosby because of his concussion issues, and other equally scorching takes. And holy shit did this team prove those people wrong. Back to back cups. Back to back Conn Smythes for Crosby. New faces contributing to playoff success. I mean Jake Guentzel, the good ‘ol corn-fed Nebraska boy, has played 37 playoff games, and put up 23 goals and 19 assists.
With that said, if there was any year that the Capitals were going to do it, it was this year. After almost 4 whole seasons worth of games crammed into 3 years the Penguins were obviously tired. And it showed. Guys we’re out there playing banged up.Phil Kessel wasn’t playing like himself out there. Letang had more giveaways than Oprah, and the team as a whole struggled to get the puck into the zone all night in the elimination game 6. They just looked tired.
And it had to come to an end, and I can honestly say, it doesn’t hurt that bad.
No, it wasn’t the most emotional locker room. Yes they lost to a rival in the Capitals. But as I said earlier, if there was any year, it was this one. So now onto the future. They get an extra month of rest, plus no parades, cup parties etc, and they come back stronger and healthy next year ready to shitpump teams on their way to another deep Stanley Cup run. With the talent that is concentrated on this roster, and only one “big name” going to be a UFA in Hornqvist, the Penguins window is not closed at all. I have full confidence in Sullivan and the coaching staff, and GMJR will undoubtedly make a couple roster moves this summer that Pens Twitter will lose their minds about, and it will end up helping the team in the next years. So congratulations to the Capitals, enjoy it, before Stamkos and Kucherov absolutely dismantle your entire organization. Bolts in 4.
p.s. I now have to root for a Western Conference team, and it’s either I root for the Misfits and Flower out at Penguins-West, or join up with #WHITEOUTKED… I guess we’ll just have to see.