This series is the start of a great rivalry blah blah blah blah. The Jackets are up and coming blah blah blah blah. And with the new divisional playoff format blah blah blah blah blah.
The Jackets gave it a great run, but at the end of the day people were only rooting for them because they hate the Penguins. When the time came, a second-rate team with second-rate players like Brandon Dubinsky couldn’t run with the big boys. It doesn’t matter what is on your tombstone; it only matters that you are in the ground.
In our series preview, we said that something would have gone horribly wrong if we weren’t previewing a series against Rangers/Flyers in the second round. Thankfully, we’ll be doing that in the coming days.
Also in our preview, we said it would be the Pens in 5. If it wasn’t for Game 4′s meltdown, we were probably right. All of the “Team X in Y games” predictions are horseshit because you’re really just guessing anyway. And we’re not saying that just because we were wrong in our prediction. No one could have foreseen how this series played out, and people saying they “picked the Pens in 6″ are assholes.
Let’s get right to it:
THREE MVPs OF THE SERIES
3. Brandon Sutter
Sutter saved the Penguins’ bacon in this series. He had the GWG goal in the third period of Game One, and the Pens went 3-0 when he scored in the series. The most important thing for Sutter was he was able to play a second-line role for the Penguins when they doubled down with Crosby and Malkin in Games 5 and 6. He suffered a bizarre injury in Game 6, and the Pens probably won’t survive that if he’s out.
2. Jack Johnson
- Averaged 29:20 of ice time per game.
- 3G, 4A, 7P
- Obviously called upon to keep Pens’ big scorers in check and did as much as he could. We never knew he was this good.
- MVP? What does this series look like without him in the lineup?
1. Paul Martin
- Averaged 27:19 of ice time per game.
- 8 assists leads all defensemen in playoffs.
- His 2 shorthanded assists is a big hidden stat and, for us, pushed him past Niskanen for this top spot. Generating offense in a situation when you’re not expected to.
- His +7 is leading everyone in the NHL.
GOAT OF THE SERIES
James Wisniewski was terrible. Just awful in this series. The guy refused to stay out of the penalty box.
- All five of his penalties came in Games 3 through 6.
- Penguins only scored on one of the power plays, but they kept the Jackets from building any momentum.
- All told, he was on the ice for 7 goals against. Yikes.
- He only managed 2 points in the six games after getting 51 in 75 games during the regular season.
BIZARRE STAT OF THE SERIES
The Jackets took 32 penalties in this series. When you are trying to stage a huge upset in the playoffs, this isn’t going to get it done, especially against a team like the Pens, who thrive on the power play. The Jackets knew this, and they still took dumb penalty after dumb penalty. Why is James Wisniewski boarding Joe Vitale? Why is Tanner Glass getting tripped? If you’re gonna take penalties, make them count.
Of the 32 penalties, 29 gave the Pens power plays. The Pens scored 6 goals on the PP. Take away one of those goals…in a series where basically every game was a one-goal game…
BIGGEST MOMENT/GAME OF THE SERIES
Malkin and Crosby joining forces changed the series. Instead of teeing off on Sidney Crosby every shift, Brandon Dubinsky couldn’t afford to with Malkin lurking. The Jackets had no answer for this, and the Malkin-Crosby topic will be all the rage in previews of the second round.
PLAYER WE’D WANT AS A PENGUIN
Of course we’d take the obvious choices. But we’d take Matt Calvert in a heartbeat. Drafted in the 5th round, 128th overall by Columbus in 2008.
- First series win for Fleury since the six-game Ottawa series in 2010.
- He bounced back from Game 4′s implosion.
- His .908 SV% and 2.81 GAA aren’t MVP numbers over 6 games. Don’t get lost in “oh, his defense” debates. Use the eye test.
- Strange collapses at the end of Games 4 and 6. Big Game 5.
- Dubinsky may have earned C for the Jackets next year. He faded in Games 5 and 6, though. Malkin and Crosby neutralized him. Couldn’t run with the big boys.
- Kris Letang rebounded from a rough start this series. Good to see. Didn’t really hear his name called much in the final couple games, which is good. The Martin/Letang pairing could morph into something really great.
- Columbus blogs were really disappointing. Same retread “Crosby sucks, is a whiner” trash.
GIF OF THE SERIES