Good thread, OP...
I think people are taking this loss to hard. First off, look at the Eastern Conference - every series (except ours) went 7 games. That just shows how close teams are. This isn't the 80's anymore - there really aren't any mega-power house teams that one can count on to go all the way. For the most part, a bounce here, a non-call there -- that can decide a game and swing momentum. If Briere was call off-sides in game 1 who knows where the series would have gone!!!
Now I do agree that there was "more" to this loss than a typical one. The Pens didn't just lose, they lost in a catastrophic way. I think there are a lot of things/people to justifiably blame...but more than anything, I think the Penguins just didn't match up well against the Flyers -- both physically and (even more) mentally. The way everyone would panic on the ice, it almost seemed like they had lost belief in themselves. I think a lot of that came from the season series againt Philly -- especially starting with the OT loss in the last few seconds of overtime. It may sound silly, but keep in mind how superstitious professional players are (read "the game" for more info on that) -- I think they players had prophetic feeling of loss the moment Philly started scoring in game 1 and they just crumbled. By the time they shook that off and started playing for pride, they were in a hole that history proves is really tough to get out of.
I think this team does need some adjustments, especially on D (this almost appears necessary due to the prospects we have waiting to make the jump up to the big club) . I absolutely do not want to hear about anyone in the core going. As far as I am concerned, I'll stand by them and want them on this team as long as they are still a Penguin (I may want them even if they aren't). As fans, we really like to believe that players love a city and love those who cheer for them -- that we make a difference and that we are in the equation somewhere (other than simply funding the multi-billion dollar endeavor). When I hear people dreaming and demanding trades for Geno, Staal or Sid (are you crazy), I wonder what these players (i.e. other human beings) think. The more "talk" there is about Staal, the more likely he will feel disconnected for the fan base and willing to leave (also possibly less willing to take a home-town discount).
Nobody liked the way Jagr left town -- but if we kick someone enough times when they are down (and believe me, right now everyone on the team is down), I wouldn't be surprised to see less of a "do it for the team/fans/city" approach and more of a "i have to do what is right for me" mentality.
...that's not good...
so let realize that the penguins were good and easily could have went far. they didn't. it happens. if we could replay this series 10 times, do people really think the flyers would win all 10? i don't. if you feel that the pens WOULD win some, they you have to agree that they COULD have won this series.
retool the D (to a degree) and get 'em next year (with the core all intact)