PITTSBURGH - Based on the reaction to the Pittsburgh Penguins' playoff loss, you'd think it was a disastrous season.
They posted 109 points in the regular season and went into the last weeks of the season with a chance to win their conference.
From the reaction, you'd think their loss to the Philadelphia Flyers was a huge upset.
The Flyers finished just five points behind the Penguins, which is how they wound up matched up as the fourth and fifth teams in the Eastern Conference.
The 4-5 series are usually the toughest because the teams are so close.
The Flyers are good. The Penguins might have a slight edge on paper, but the Flyers were better on ice.
Everyone needs scapegoats when things don't go well. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury had a couple of uncharacteristically bad games.
The overall team defense wasn't good for the first three games of the series.
The Penguins couldn't stop the Flyers on the power play, and they weren't smart or disciplined enough to stay out of the penalty box.
Three players - James Neal, Craig Adams and Arron Asham - managed to get themselves suspended for at least one game.
Stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin played below their usual level, especially Malkin.
It adds up to a bad 10 days, which should not be allowed to overshadow a very successful regular season that covered 188 days.
General manager Ray Shero had a season-ending briefing Tuesday to dispel some of the craziness.
Coach Dan Bylsma is staying. So are his assistant coaches.
Shero couldn't say much about possible personnel moves, because the NHL collective bargaining agreement will expire soon.
Without a labor agreement, it's impossible to define what the salary cap will be, which also makes it difficult to determine how the Penguins will make all the large salaries fit.
Shero said he wants to open negotiations with Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal on new contracts.
He also seemed to at least partially exonerate beleaguered defensemen Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek, noting that they were part of a major improvement in goals against in the season prior to this one.
Is he counting on a comeback from them, or just trying to fluff up their value for potential trades?
There are a lot of decisions pending. Shero said it would be a big summer.
His mission: Find out why a team that was so good for six months could fall apart for a week and a half when it mattered most.
Mehno can be reached at email@example.com.