Dunlap: Keep Big Picture In Mind With Penguins

Body of work, not one loss, defines this hockey club

Colin Dunlap
May 08, 2018 - 1:19 pm
Matt Murray

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

If you are like me, you probably yelled at your television --- or screamed right down at that ice if you were in the building on Monday night. Just at 10 p.m., on the dot, it all ended. A bunch of that talk about a dynasty came to a sudden halt when Evgeny Kuznetsov found a way to slither one past Matt Murray in overtime and propel his Washington Capitals into the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 1998. 

But how long did the anger last? Because it probably should have subsided by now.

How long were you mad about things? Because you should probably be over it at this point.

For how many minutes --- or hours --- did you think the better team got the short end of the stick? Because I'm here to tell you they didn't; in this series the Capitals were the better team. 

That's tough to digest, almost impossible to think and damn near black-and-gold sacrilege to say, but it is the truth. And it's also why I can't be mad, save for the immediate moments just after that puck sneaked in past Murray. I got over it quickly, real quickly, because the fact of the matter was that the big picture has been a lot more massive than any dent one playoff series loss can levy to the Pittsburgh Penguins. 

Certainly, different people have different opinions about all this, but mine is simple and clearcut: The ride the Pittsburgh Penguins took us on with back-to-back Stanley Cup victories over the past couple seasons far outweighs any disappointment to be registered from them not getting there this season. This is a big picture issue, it is as clear as day. And in that big picture this franchise has lifted itself to the one others around the NHL measure themselves against. You know those parades down Grant Street? They really happened. 

The stain of one series loss --- again to the better team and better goaltender in this series in Braden Holtby --- can't and won't sully that. Nothing negative can envelope the positive of the big picture which is the Penguins' recent run of success coupled with a probability they are going to be very successful again in the near future. 

With Murray, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, et. al. coming back, would you bet against this team getting to the Final in the near future again? I know I wouldn't. In fact, it would be a stunner to me if Crosby doesn't lead this team to another Cup before his playing days are complete. 

So go ahead and take your time to grieve --- in sports teams of course. Do what you need to do. Turn off the rest of the NHL postseason, root for Vegas, root against the Capitals, start watching more Pirates games, wait for St. Vincent to start, turn yourself off to sports until the Penguins start back up, hell, go for a walk or read a book, I don't know. But don't let those feelings linger, don't allow what happened on Monday night when the Capitals finally cracked the code to diminish what is the real story here. 

You know what is that real story? It's that the Pittsburgh Penguins already have taken us on one heckuva run and, albeit some of the key components could be getting a little older, it feels as if they are far from being finished giving our city exhilarating moments. The series loss to the Capitals doesn't really seem like the end of anything for me, but in looking at the big picture (which should be looked at in times like these) it seems like just a brief pause in what should be another span of great success before the end of hockey days for Crosby, Malkin and that bunch.