Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Burnout, Blow out, Bow out...

The most anticipated game seven of the playoff season so far, in the end was by far the most anti-climatic event of the playoffs.

Over by the second period, the Pittsburgh Penguins simply rolled over the Washington Capitals, sending Capital's goaltender Simeon Varlamov into shell shock and eventually the end of the Capitals bench, as they dominated the Caps in every facet of the game.

The Caps who frequently seemed like just one goal away from advancing prior to game seven, provided perhaps one of the great playoff crashes in NHL history, unable to put the Pens away, they instead watched helplessly on Wednesday night as Pittsburgh, scored two quick first period goals in eight seconds to not just rattle their confidence but erode it completely.

The Caps who began the playoffs with Jose Theodore in the nets, finished them off with him back in the crease, providing the role of compassionate replacement after four goals for the shattered Varlamov. The previously untested goaltender playing in his first playoff season, finally may have found out that the emotional and physical toll of the second season eventually catches up to you, it sure appeared to at the most inopportune time for the Capitals.
And while in a perfect NHL storybook finish Theodore might have stolen the night, the simple fact would be that his supporting cast was nowhere up to the task even had he stood on his head, as it is Theodore would surrender two goals of his own as the Pens wrapped up the series by a score of 6-2, winning the best of seven series four games to three.

For Pittsburgh, the victory advances them one more step towards a repeat of the defence of their Eastern Conference championship of last year and more importantly provides them with more confidence heading into the Eastern final, once their next opponent has been determined.

Much was made of the head to head battles of Ovechkin and Crosby, both players highlighted why they are at the top of the list when it comes to current stars accounting for twenty seven points between the two of them, 14 and 13 respectively.

But in the playoffs the team concept regularly over rules the individual and for the last three games, the Pens have been the team that has seemed to want the wins more. They scored the goals when they were needed and did not wilt in the face of challenges that threatened to bring their season to an end.

This marks the second series in a row that the Pens have had to claw their way into advancing, a character building exercise which while dangerous, may very well provide for a reward later on this month and into next.

The hockey in this series provided some fascinating excitement for six of the seven games. The two teams combining to provide us with six highlight like games to remember, fast paced, entertaining and shows where you never wanted to leave your seat lest you miss something.
All of which left game seven to be one to be forgotten as quickly as possible, especially if you happen to wear a Capitals sweater, or support the cause.

Globe and Mail-- Capital collapse
Globe and Mail-- Seventh game shocker
Pittsburgh Tribune Review-- Crosby and Pens chase Caps from playoffs
Pittsburgh Tribune Review-- Pens never stopped believing
Pittsburth Tribune Review-- Fleury's theft on Ovechkin sparks Penguins
Washington Times-- Caps Flattened

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