Reminder: It’s Supposed To Be Hard


The Stanley Cup Playoffs are known for being the toughest grind in professional sports leading to a Championship. They tax your body, your mind, and your soul. And that’s just round one. Then, you get the lucky pleasure of getting to play increasingly more deadly and talented foes with each rung of the ladder you climb up.

Congratulations! You have bested the Philadelphia Flyers! You now get to face the greatest goal scorer…potentially ever… in the National Hockey League. How FUN! (Yes, Alex Ovechkin is one of the greatest goal scorers of all-time, do not fight me on this). You just scored eight goals in an elimination game! Good for you Pittsburgh, now you get to play a Vezina Trophy Winner (2016) and Finalist (2017).

Look, the point here is that it’s not easy. It’s not supposed to be. But as Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty.”

In 2016, the Pittsburgh Penguins were a monster. A behemoth. The only team that was supposed to be better than them? The Washington Capitals.

In 2017, the Pittsburgh Penguins were going for another one. Without Letang. The team primed to knock them off? The loaded up Capitals.

In 2018, the Pittsburgh Penguins are yet again different. Letang is back but Fleury is gone. Ian Cole has been replaced by Jamie Oleksiak. Nick Bonino has turned into Derick Brassard. But the idea that “well winning three times in a row is a lot to ask” is pretty asinine.

Do the Capitals scare me? Oh yes. I mean, the Capitals are a good hockey team and they just won four in a row to advance to round 2. I’ve already got knots in my stomach and Game One isn’t until tomorrow!

But nothing will come easy.

There are things this team has that no one else does. Tell me, how many teams can climb out of a two-goal hole on the road? When the team you’re facing is as desperate as one facing elimination? That is the kind of insane resilience this team has.

Name a powerplay better than this one in the last…oh 30 years? Name a powerplay for the Pittsburgh Penguins that’s EVER been better than this one.  They don’t exist.

There are also things that would scare any of us. The specter of Ovechkin looming in “his spot”. The sprawling pads of Holtby making the save that wins a game or round. John Carlson putting up absolutely incredible numbers in round one. Duh, we know this enemy.

But we also know this team. We know Sidney Crosby is the greatest player in the world. We know Evgeni Malkin is an absolute monster. We know Derick Brassard feasts on the tough moments in the playoffs. We know Matt Murray might not be a flower but he blooms his brightest in the spring.

The numbers? Well, last year they weren’t on our side. And this year, it depends on who you ask. But the numbers have a hard time accounting for just how much mental stamina goes into this game. And if we can believe in anything about this team it’s their mental toughness and their coaches ability to adjust in a seven-game series. If we can believe in anyone it’s the guys out there with the skating penguin on their jersey fronts. And if we can believe in anything it’s that Gambler’s Fallacy is just that… a fallacy. If you’ve flipped ten heads in a row on a coin, the chances of getting heads again are still 50/50 no matter what it feels like.



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