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Penguins

Shea-ved Ice: Embarrassing Display Lands Pens In 3-0 Hole

By: Casey Shea
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(Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

(Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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Well, here we are.

The Penguins made zero adjustments after getting spanked in Pittsburgh in Game 2 and now find themselves down 3-0 in the series.

Philadelphia has scored a touchdown and tacked on the 2-point conversion in consecutive games and the Penguins haven’t figured out how to stop their bread and butter delay and find the late man play.

At this point, I don’t care about the lack of defense. I’m more concerned with the lack of heart and character this team showed today in Game 3.

While I was not old enough to fully appreciate the Stanley Cup runs of 1991 and 1992, I fully remember enduring the dark ages while in college where this team was fighting just to make it to 29th in the standings.

It was a hard time to be a fan, but I, like many of you all, stuck by them knowing that better days were coming.

It took a couple of years, but the team started to turn around, eventually winning a Stanley Cup in 2009. Since that day, the Penguins have been thought of as a class organization who were perennial Stanley Cup contenders.

Today’s game raises a lot of questions about the latter half of that statement.

Pittsburgh bowed out in the 2nd round of the 2010 playoffs to the Canadiens, which many chalked up to being out of gas after consecutive appearances in the Stanley Cup Finals.

A year ago, the Penguins were bounced in the first round by the Tampa Bay Lightning in seven games. The logical excuse for that was being ravaged by injury and being without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Now, here we are a year later and the Pens are staring another early elimination in the face.

What’s the excuse this time?

Simply put, there isn’t one.

The Penguins raced out to a 3-0 lead in Game 1 and appeared to take on the mentality that they weren’t going to have to work for this series. It was as if the series was already over.

Aside from the first periods of Game 1 and Game 2, Philly has wanted it more. They’ve outworked the Penguins in every facet of the game. They’ve made adjustments and are exploiting the Penguins’ weaknesses with surgical precision.

It’s not that the Penguins don’t have an answer for the Flyers. They are capable of beating them, but they just don’t appear to have made any attempt to make adjustments.

Today’s game was nothing short of an embarrassment for any number of reasons.

Once again, the Penguins jumped out to a 1-0 lead, then gave up three quick goals and eventually resorted to thuggery out of frustration.

The game was basically over when the Flyers capitalized on a 3-on-2 rush to make the game 3-1.

Pittsburgh’s’ body language said it all – they were defeated.

The power play and penalty kill have been horrendous. Philly seems to be able to score at will both on the power play and while shorthanded.

On defense, there is far too much spectating taking place.

Not to harp on one guy because there is no one person to solely blame here, but Paul Martin should be benched for Game 4 after his performance today.

The play that sticks out in my mind is Wayne Simmonds’ breakaway power play goal at the end of the 2nd period.

Pittsburgh failed to get a puck deep from the neutral zone and the Flyers caught Pittsburgh trying to change lines. Martin closed in enough on Simmonds where a diving attempt could have broken up the play.

Instead, Martin elected to glide back and take a weak hack at Simmonds as he crossed the goalmouth in front of Fleury.

The score was 5-4 before Simmonds tucked the puck behind Fleury. Pittsburgh was buzzing at the other end before Chris Kunitz took another ill-advised penalty in the offensive zone. The makings of a comeback were there, but a lack of discipline and a lack of heart ruled the day.

There are simply too many embarrassing things to list from this game. There was Arron Asham cross-checking Brayden Schenn in the throat after he drilled Martin and was penalized for charging.

Asham was ejected and will likely see a suspension coming his way.

The Penguins tried to start a couple of donnybrooks throughout the contest and the officials were forced to send several players from both teams to the showers early.

The entire game was just sickening to watch. I know these are professional athletes and they personally owe me nothing, but where is their sense of pride?

If the Penguins were playing up to their own standards and were just simply getting beat, I don’t think anyone would be as upset.

Personally, I don’t think I have ever been more emotionally involved in a series in my life, the 2009 Finals included.

It’s probably that I was in attendance for the first two games of this series. I’ve been two notches past 10 on the dial since the puck dropped on the series. My vocal chords were burning after the first period of Game 1 and it still hurts to talk now.

All I’m asking is for the Pens to show some heart. If they are going to lose (sure seems likely right now), at least go down honorably. Resorting to tactics that have been synonymous with Flyers teams of old is not what the Penguins are about.

I’ve never been embarrassed to be a Penguins fan, but today I am. The players and coaches should be embarrassed as well.

This was not the same team that we as fans have poured our support into all season, or even longer depending how you view things.

The Penguins saw the ship sinking early in the game, lost their cool and the rest of the game is history. The series may be close to over, but it’s not over yet.

I’ll never stop supporting this team and will not give up hope until the final horn sounds. The Penguins owe it to themselves to take a hard look in the mirror and at every guy in that locker room and remember who they are as individuals and more importantly, who they are as a team.

There is no room for error anymore. If a comeback is going to happen, they need to come out on Wednesday and play like the team they are capable of being.

For both the Penguins and the fans, it’s probably best to just forget these past three games have happened.

It’s hard to find a positive in all of this negativity, but there’s a game to be played on Wednesday night, which means one thing.

It’s not over yet.

You can follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/sheavedice

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