As the handshake line ended there was only one thing on Penguins fans’ minds. The three-headed monster may be no more. They might’ve pondered the thought of if only Sidney Crosby didn’t get hurt in Game 5 or if only their top two goalies were healthy. No one will ever know the what if’s. As the Penguins went up 3-1 in the series confidence was sky high but there really was no quit in the New York Rangers. The Pittsburgh Penguins’ 2022 playoffs came to an end for quite a few reasons.
The Penguins simply should have won this series. They controlled 63% of expected goals which is the highest since the 2007-2008 season when the start first began getting tracked. With a few more saves they would have won this series likely in 5 or 6 games. Luck plays a factor and they didn’t get it. So now they get to watch the Rangers sail off into the sunset of the second round.
Pittsburgh Penguins 2022 Playoff Run Comes to End
On April 14th it came out that the Penguins starting goalie Tristan Jarry was week to week with a lower-body injury. The Penguins weren’t too worried as Casey Desmith rebounded the last few months of the season so would be a solid option while Jarry rehabbed. Then came Game 1. Louis Domingue saved the Penguins in that one. As the series went on he surely wasn’t magnificent. Statistically, the baker was the worst goalie to play in the playoffs.
The blame can’t go all on King Louis though. He did the unthinkable. A career AHL goaltender came in and did his best in the playoffs. Some areas he had issues in were his angles. The most evident example of this was in game 3 on a goal by Kaapo Kakko. According to MoneyPuck if the Penguins received average goaltending they would’ve had 3.4 fewer goals against. We can say if they had the 3.4 fewer goals against, they would have won the series. Louis Domingue did all he could and will be a Penguins legend for his spicy pork and broccoli quote forever.
As the second period wound down in Game 5 it certainly looked like the Pittsburgh Penguins were going to close out the New York Rangers. They did not. Sidney Crosby left the game with a very apparent upper-body injury. Before this, the Penguins were absolutely dominating. Not only dominating possession-wise but they had an absolute hold on the Mika Zibanejad line, controlling possession and shot attempts in all previous games.
As soon as Crosby left the ice due to injury, the Penguins completely crumbled allowing three straight goals which ultimately ended in a 5-3 loss. The captain was missed. He returned in Game 7 but it was evident he and the other two game-time decisions were not 100%. Crosby attributed heavily to the play of the first line who shined bright being the best forward line in the postseason. They brought almost six goals per game while only allowing 1.3 against. If it wasn’t for the loss of Crosby the Penguins would be sailing into round 2. The kid is definitely still alright.
It should be hard for anyone to say the Penguins deserved to lose this series. They were on track to dominate the Rangers. They led the postseason in offensive generation while dominating at suppressing chances against in their own end. Along with this, the Penguins finally took the quantity over quality mindset. Generating close to 40 shots a game led to them ultimately cracking Igor Shesterkin.
However, the Penguins lost this series by shooting themselves in the foot. They consistently blew leads in games they should have closed out. They are now seeing in the Hurricanes-Rangers series how they ultimately should have played. A strong forecheck and power kill has shut down the Ranger’s top guns. The Pittsburgh Penguins have already started their offseason ventures with the signing of Bryan Rust. Changes will be made as this team transitions but overall they continue proving people wrong. The Pittsburgh Penguins 2022 playoffs were disappointing but they took the underdog mentality upon themselves which hasn’t been said in a long time.