Ever have a game where the home-team is getting beat so badly that you start rooting for the worst defeat possible just for the heck of it? That's how I was feeling when I was listening to the Penguins' 8-2 thrashing at the hands of the Tamp Bay Lightning yesterday afternoon. The Penguins were trying to clinch the series in just 5-games. I think everyone assumed that since the game was at the Consol Energy Center, Pittsburgh would just have to show up and the series would be over.
But Tampa had other plans and by the end of the 2nd period, it was 5-0 and Marc Andre Fleury was out of goal. Any thoughts of a miraculous comeback were put to bed pretty quickly in the last period when the Lightning scored 2 more goals and were up, 7-0. This is when I was openly rooting for a double-digit defeat. I mean, they were going to lose, why not do so with some gusto, right?
Of course, it's easy for me to say that because I'm not a huge hockey fan. It had to be rough for true Pens fans because that wasn't just a fluke. The Lightning have played the Penguins pretty evenly in the series. Just because Pittsburgh was up 3-1 in the series heading into yesterday's game didn't mean the Pens were dominating.
Game 1 was scoreless heading into the 3rd period, game 2 was dominated by the Lightning, game 3 was 3-2 in favor of the Pens, and game 4 went into double-overtime.
A bounce here or there and Tampa could have been the team heading into game 5 with a 3-1 lead.
Yes, even after yesterday's meltdown, the Penguins are still up 3-2, but now it appears that Tampa's weapons, Stamkos and St. Louis, are getting hot. The Penguins, on the other hand, have been without their major firepower since mid-season. They've been relying on the likes of Tyler Kennedy and Aaron Asham to score key goals. That was fine as long as Fleury was dominating, but now after yesterday, one has to wonder if his confidence will be rattled for the remainder of the series.
If Tampa's key guys remain hot and Fleury goes into a slump, the rest of this first round series could go a lot like yesterday's game.