If you say that you thought the Pens would sweep Carolina in the Eastern Conference Finals, you’re lying. Either that or you have zero hockey sense.
After beating my favorite to represent the Eastern Conference, New Jersey, and the No. 1 seed in the East, Boston, nobody expected the Hurricanes perform as poorly as they did.
What many expected to happen going in to this series failed to happen. The unexpected did happen.
Max Talbot’s eventual series-clinching goal was a perfect example of how these four games have been: WEIRD.
A “though break” is right. That sums up the series for Carolina and brings me to my next weird point of this series — Cam Ward.
What happened to him? In FOUR GAMES, Ward allowed 17 GOALS! What?!
He was horrible. That guy everyone said would give Pittsburgh the most trouble ended up providing the Penguins with as much help as they needed. Sure, his defense didn’t help him at all, but uncharacteristic rebounds and wide open nets greeted the Pens on many occasions.
It just doesn’t make any sense. The guy that had never lost a playoff series or a game seven … the goalie that already had a Stanley Cup ring … the goalie referred to as the best left in the playoffs … all for not.
Although, his performance in net fits in with everything else in this series. I mean come on, Miroslav Satan got into a fight in game three. In fact, he left the ice after that fight to a standing ovation.
No one could have predicted that, or even the fact that he would turn into a major offensive factor. Most of us forgot Satan even existed as the team entered the playoffs.
And to end the whole thing on a consistent note, Sidney Crosby did what so many players are afraid to do and picked up the Prince of Wales Trophy. He posed with alternate captains Evgeni Malkin and Sergei Gonchar and then allowed each member of the team to touch it before retiring to the locker room.
As the Pens skated off and the game officially ended, I got to thinking … I’m not so sure the Hurricanes helped the Pens as they head to the Stanley Cup Finals. This was not the same Carolina team. They didn’t have the same intensity in this series and barely looked like a playoff team.
Maybe, rather hopefully, this was just a product of stellar play by the Pens. You can’t take away the production they got from all area during the series. However, it is clear that Detroit — the likely winner of the Western Conference — will be a much more difficult opponent.
I can’t believe we’re here again. Who thought the Pens would be here in February? No me. Maybe those people who predicted a clean sweep did.
LET’S GO PENS
Chris | PPT