After an inexplicably abysmal performance in a 6-1 loss to the Boston Bruins at CONSOL Energy Center on Monday that put Pittsburgh down 2-0 in the series, the Penguins closed the doors to their locker room and held a players-only meeting.
They left the rink, got some rest and came back Tuesday to watch film and have a full team meeting before their noon practice. The Penguins skated hard for just over half an hour before boarding the team plane to fly to Boston for Game 3 Wednesday and Game 4 Friday.
It may have seemed like just another day, but it wasn’t. There may have been a few laughs and chirps here and there, but overall, the guys were somber and focused as they should be, considering the situation they are in – losing the first two games of the Eastern Conference Final at home and having to try and dig themselves out of this hole in a tough situation on the road.
“It’s tough to win in the playoffs as it is, and when you give a team a game like that you feel terrible,” captain Sidney Crosby said following practice. “Nobody had a good feeling about it. But we came in here today and know we’ve got to get ready for Game 3.”
“Nobody is happy with where we’re at or the way we played last night,” forward Jarome Iginla added. “We came in and it’s back to work.”
They have one singular focus – winning just one game. They reflected on their previous experiences being down 0-2 to start series and coming back to win – which most recently happened twice during their 2009 Cup run vs. Washington and Detroit – and what this specific group needs to do on Wednesday to make this a 2-1 series.
“Our group, I think we got refocused today, got determined today, understand exactly what we have in front of us and what we need to do,” coach Dan Bylsma said. “We're getting on that plane with that in mind to go into Game 3 and win Game 3.”
There’s so much that has gone wrong for the Penguins dating back to the end of the second period in Game 1. They’ve played poorly. That’s all there is to it. It happens to all teams for stretches all the time; it’s just unfortunate that it’s happening to Pittsburgh right now with the stakes so high. But all the Penguins can do right now is understand the situation they are in and look ahead to Game 3.
“I don’t think it’s anything to do with X’s and O’s,” Crosby said. “We just didn’t execute. That’s really what it came down to. Unfortunately we didn’t give ourselves much of a chance to win that game. We understand that. But it’s over now and we’ve got to find a way to win Game 3.
“It’s not going to change anything the more we dissect it. You can overanalyze it, we just didn’t play well.”
This series isn’t over. It takes four wins to clinch a series, not two. And the Penguins plan to get their first on Wednesday in Boston, no matter what it takes.
“It's a good test for us,” center Evgeni Malkin said. “Of course it's hard. If we beat Boston, we have a great chance to win the Stanley Cup. It's not easy to win. Never easy to win in Boston. But we know we can.”
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