Because the most memorable moments in sports are usually the most unexpected, it's easy to forget that so much of what happens is exactly what's supposed to happen. And the Pens' dispensing of the Senators, seemingly with very little difficulty, was exactly what was supposed to happen.
It was obvious after Game 1 that the Pens were a superior team to Ottawa, and once the Pens put up another 4-spot on Craig Anderson in Game 2, the concerns about getting stoned by this year's "hot goalie" dissipated. Game 3 was about as encouraging of a game as the Pens have played all playoffs until an epic brain-fart at the end that didn't really put the series in doubt, but confirmed the doubt in your head that as great as this team is, there is still the capacity for bad mental mistakes. That doubt was re-suppressed during the Pens' sustained domination throughout Games 4 and 5.
Make no mistake about it. This was a 5-game sweep. The Pens were dominant for long stretches, and brilliant for others. It was every bit the mismatch that Pens-Hurricanes was in 2009. The only times the Senators had sustained pressure, the Pens kept it to the outside and gave up very few quality scoring chances.
It's hard to say how much of the Pens' performance this series was due to the Pens being great or Ottawa simply being overmatched and running out of gas after a season played almost entirely on fumes. But I lean toward the former. Everything about the Senators' body language -- and even their captain's actual language -- screamed "this team is better than us." Professional athletes don't usually play with such resignation unless they know that they know they have no chance. Ottawa had no chance, and they knew it. In fact, they knew it a long time ago.
After the Pens stole Jarome Iginla from the Bruins in the middle of the night, Paul MacLean was asked the next day about all the Pens' moves. "I don't even know why we'd bother playing the playoffs," he joked. He should have listened to himself. Ottawa should never have bothered.
|Mr. Mom knows.|
MacLean: "I hope they don't bill us for the clinic."
— Sean Gentille (@seangentille) May 25, 2013