I know there is one more game and I'm not about to jump ship, but I spent the second half of this game pondering the emotions that go through my mind when watching the shitshow that is this playoff series.
I'm disappointed in the team. We had a very strong season. I know it was littered with losing streaks, but we showed some great things from Elliott's play to the emergence of Karlsson and Regin to the ageless play of Alfredsson. It is sad that we are on the ropes and have shown so little pride in these last three losses.
I'm disappointed in Jason Spezza. He took a very long time getting going this season in his post-Heatley era, but finished on a tear. When Michalek and Kovalev went down with injury, a tonne of pressure was heaped on Spezza to help carry us this postseason and his play has regressed. I know he put up some points tonight, but his effort has been way too spotty for his role on this team. Fisher has been subpar, as well, but Spezza is supposed to be the top scorer.
I'm disappointed in the goalies. Elliott, who was naturally quite nervous in Game One, never really settled into his groove. He made some strong saves, but never made the BIG save. Furthermore, he never really looked comfortable out there. I know some amazing players were taking shots on him, but this isn't the same Elliott that helped us lock up 5th place.
I'm disappointed in Phillips and Volchenkov. Again, a difficult task was put upon them, but it is now safe to say that their performance in shutting down Crosby and Malkin has been an unmitigated disaster thus far. On Crosby's second goal tonight, Phillips let the kid walk into the circle to take that wrist shot. We know that we can't give them space, but we never once stood them up at the blueline. It had nothing to do with speed, unless our guys were worried that if they missed the hit, they couldn't get back to recover. Our top pairing has been humiliated thus far.
I'm disappointed in Clouston. He has been outcoached here against a guy that was in his position last year. Keeping Spezza against Crosby for three and a half games was an epic mistake. Cheechoo drawing into this game was pointless. He never adjusted to the Penguins stepping up on their forecheck and as a result, we had terrible breakouts from our zone. Two separate too many men penalties in one game? What the feck is going on?
I'm disappointed in the Penguins. For such a skilled team, they play like dirty little assholes. Malkin loves the post-whistle blindside bodycheck, but he never once hangs around for the player to get back up. How he didn't get a penalty late third on Neil after Sutton was called is brutal. I have been waiting four games for Sutton to literally take his head off (seriously - take it off). At the end of the second period after Phillips clocked Crosby, you could see the kid complaining to the refs while skating off the ice. Letang took a dive after Neil's goal. Ponikarovsky is just awful. These players take liberties and never once stand around to finish. What makes it so frustrating is that they are incredibly talented and will beat you with goals, too. So not only do they kick our ass on the scoreboard, they don't let us kick their ass physically as retribution. Matt Cooke turtles while Ruutu punches his visor. These guys make me sick to the stomach for being so damn soft and so cowardly, even when they score.
I'm disappointed in the Eastern Conference because I just don't know how a team is going to beat the Penguins. Who will beat them, the Caps? Will Alex Semin slap Malkin in a Eurotrash melee? I don't like any of these teams!
I'm disappointed in the refs. I will never, EVER blame a game on the zebras, but I think this has been a poorly officiated series. I feel like the Penguins have taken a tonne of dives and the refs bite on the penalty on us. Coincidental minor penalties would have been fine, but we'd get called. I don't think they missed one call on us. The Neil charing penalty in game three, the Neil roughing penalty after his goal tonight, both terrible calls. Again, I'll never blame a loss on the zebras but the officiating here was piss poor and it bugs me.
I'm disappointed that our season has come down to whether or not we can find an ounce of pride. Mellon Arena will be bonkers Thursday night and they will do everything they can to avoid the trip back to Ottawa. I'm going to watch and cheer and yell and scream and I really hope that our boys can show that they are willing to salvage some pride. If they go down, go down swinging. Give us something to look forward to all summer, besides another goaltending concern and questions about leadership.