Age Before Beauty

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I never wanted to believe that we could lose. Even after Saturday’s catastrophic performance. Even after Tampa Bay forced a 7th game. I never wanted to believe that we’d get knocked out after the first round like we were some kind of newbie team with no playoff experience who lacked the sufficient intensity to win.

Granted, we did have a few amateurs in tow. Connor was playing in his 7th playoff game which means this was his first time to the party. I’m sure Letestu and Tangradi aren’t really experienced playoff veterans either. However, much of our team was there when we won the Cup two years ago, along with other people with plenty of playoff games under their belts from their tenure with other teams. So, I can’t say that we actually were some newbie team with no playoff experience who lacked the sufficient intensity to win. Plus, it’s not like Tampa Bay has been killing it in the playoffs over the past few years.

True, Sid and Geno were noticeably absent from the Pens’ roster during this all too brief run. But, it’s not like they were playing for Tampa Bay instead. The Lightening managed to win without them, so why couldn’t we? Besides, two people do not a team make. We have several other very talented guys who were present and accounted for, but they just couldn’t pull it off.

Now, I don’t really want to start playing the blame game. The areas in which we were lacking were obvious (cough…power play…cough) and I don’t think it’s really necessary for me to run down the list. The fact of the matter is we just couldn’t do it. Plain and simple.

Let’s face it, despite a valiant effort in the regular season, we knew that we were lucky to make the playoffs without the assistance of our two best players. We also knew that it was going to be an uphill battle. Even if we somehow had managed to make it past Tampa Bay battling the Capitals would have been one hell of a dogfight that could have easily exhausted what was left of our meager resources.

This series really turned into a battle of goaltenders. Fleury stood tall, made some incredible saves and, in many instances, gave the Pens a real chance to stay in it. Unfortunately, we just never managed to break Roloson. I am a big believer in goalie breaking and the sooner the better. If I could have had things my way Roloson would have been pulled in a combination of embarrassment and disgrace during game one, never to return. But, alas, that was not the case. Instead, we are left giving props to a hockey senior citizen.

The thing is, it’s not like we were blown out of the water last night. The final score was only 1-0. Is that better or worse than it being 10-0? Is it better to think that we never had a chance than to know that it would have only taken 1 goal to keep our playoff dreams alive for even just a little longer? I don’t know. However, what I do know is that it bothers me that it seems like the Pens gave up somewhere during that game. Rather than leaving it all on the ice it seemed like they resigned themselves to the fact that they were going to lose. Failure I can handle, but failure without even trying I cannot.

Although nothing will soothe the sting of this loss, the only thing that I can hope is that the Lightening go all the way. If we’re going to be taken out I want it to be by the Stanley Cup champions and not the team that gets bounced in the next round. So, without my Pens to cheer for should I proclaim Go Tampa? Uh, never.