Pens Fall Through
Imagine if you had a 16-year streak of going to the playoffs, with three Stanley Cups in that time. Now imagine that you lost that streak by losing to the second-worst team in the NHL. Haha, how silly. Wouldn’t that be embarrassing?
Well folks, the Pens have done it. After a massive up and down shitshow of a year, the race for the wildcard slot officially ended on Wednesday, after the Islanders beat the Canadians 4-2, making it mathematically impossible for the Penguins to make it to the playoffs. The Pens had no control over this, and really just had to watch the scoreboard and pray. However, something they did have control over was their game the previous night against the Blackhawks. You see, as of Tuesday, the Blackhawks were the second worst team in the NHL, followed only by the Ducks (at this point, they’re only the third worst). In theory, we should’ve skated circles around these guys. Instead, they just utterly embarrassed us. After a scoreless first, the Blackhawks took the first point in the second period. This does not bode well for Pittsburgh– they’re 24-10-7 when they score first, but a measly 16-21-4 when their opponent scores first. Not a great start! Things were looking up for a moment when Geno tied the game 1-1 on the Pens power play in the beginning of the third, but it would all be downhill from there. Five minutes later, the Blackhawks would score twice within 30 seconds, including a frustrating ricochet off of Jarry and into the net. In the last minute and a half, Chicago would score an empty netter. One of my clearest memories from this game is the Danton Heinen goal that immediately followed– right after he lit the torch, the camera cut to Heinen and he did not look excited in the slightest. Just so horrifically unamused with how everything was playing out. At that point, the score was 4-2, and I really think that they just knew they weren’t making it to the playoffs at that point. The deal was really sealed 15 seconds later with another Chicago empty netter, and the game would finish 5-2, with the Pens receiving zero points towards the wildcard race.
After getting definitively kicked out of the playoffs on Wednesday, I honestly did not even watch the game on Thursday. I didn’t even listen. They lost 3-2 to the Bluejackets (current second worst team in the league). What is wrong with this team? How do you lose your chance at the playoffs by losing to two absolute garbage dogwater teams? Whatever. Moving on. Following this absolute horror of a season end, ownership has essentially fired the entire front office. Notable removals include general manager Ron Hextall, much to many fans’ delight, as well as Assistant General Manager Chris Pryor and President of Hockey Operations Brian Burke. I honestly don’t care who they hire, as long as they do something different from whatever the hell happened this year.
On a slightly more positive note, a lot of people think this is the wakeup call that Pittsburgh needed to really get back into the game and start moving and shaking. Although I’m quite sad that there will be no more Pens to watch this season, I’m ready for a (hopefully) refreshed and improved team come October. Until then, I suppose I’ll have to return to my Florida roots and hope for a Lightning sweep. Let’s go Bolts, I guess.