The Pittsburgh Penguins with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, James Neal, Jarome Iginla, Chris Kunitz and Brenden Morrow were completely embarrassed over the past four periods of playoff hockey by the Boston Bruins, and now find themselves down 2-0 in the East final.
PITTSBURGH -- All of a sudden the team built at the trade deadline to win it all has major cracks in its foundation, and is two losses from crumbling to the ground.
The Pittsburgh Penguins with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, James Neal, Jarome Iginla, Chris Kunitz and Brenden Morrow were completely embarrassed over the past four periods of playoff hockey by the Boston Bruins.
But even though the Bruins played an efficient game to snatch a 2-0 series lead, the Penguins have done their part. They look nothing like the group that turned around their game late in the first round and the team that dismantled the Ottawa Senators in the next series.
"We've made some mistakes as a group that we haven't been making," Iginla said. "We've put ourselves in a hole.
"The last four periods haven't been very good for us. We need to stop it right now. It's obvious we can't make that many turnovers, our puck management and the way we were handling it, we started to press a little bit, and we weren't very smart with it and we got out-competed."
Vokoun, Fleury powerless to stop Bruins
Both Pittsburgh goalies Tomas Vokoun and Marc-Andre Fleury were left on their own. Pittsburgh had 12 giveaways in the game to Boston's two. Mistakes were plentiful in the Penguins' game, and for the most part, their stars were to blame in Game 2.
Crosby, a finalist for the Hart Trophy, failed to control a bouncing puck at the Boston blue-line, which resulted in a Brad Marchand breakaway goal 28 seconds into Game 2. The Penguins captain didn't look much better in the second period with a couple more giveaways and now the game's best player has gone 152 minutes and 22 seconds since his last point. He had not gone without a point in back-to-back games all season.
Pittsburgh defenceman Kris Letang, a finalist for the Norris Trophy, cleared the puck up the middle in his own zone and the miscue turned into the Bruins second goal from Nathan Horton. Letang was a minus-three on the evening and now has been on for six of Boston's nine goals in the series.
Iginla, who along with Brenden Morrow and Douglas Murray, was picked up at the trade deadline to fortify the Penguins lineup, failed to pick up a trailing David Krejci, who scored to make it 3-0 for the Bruins before the game was 17 minutes old. "I know I need to be better and we all need to be better," Iginla said.
Malkin also continues to be invisible. He skated by a check in his own end in the second period. He has 10 shots on Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask in the two games, but he has to score and play much better if the Penguins want to get back on track.
"We don't sit here and accept that," Crosby said when asked about what gives with the lack of production from him and Malkin. "We know we're counted on to score. I'm not going to sit here and make excuses. We know we have to be better.
"We have to be smarter. We have to make sure we're not giving them their opportunities. They're a good hockey team. You can't give them easy ones. I did that in the first shift and it ended up in the back of our net.
"Tonight was terrible. There is no other way to describe it. We were not good really in any area."
We have seen this sort of poor defensive play from the Penguins in the playoffs since their Stanley Cup championship run in 2008-09 under head coach Dan Bylsma.
It appears that the Penguins don't want to play a safer brand of hockey. They should know by now that the Bruins can make you pay for mistakes. Pittsburgh has to play a more patient game when this series moves to Boston.
"We didn't manage the puck. Turnovers cost the game," Letang said. "Every time we made a turnover they made us pay."
Now it's a matter of pride for Letang and the Penguins. Do they have enough leadership and determination to battle against an extremely efficient Bruins team that has won seven of their past eight outings?
"I'm not going to worry how we'll respond," Crosby said.
Tim WharnsbyTim's worked the sports beat at The Globe and Mail and the Toronto Sun, specializing in Canada's one true sporting obsession - hockey. He knows the players, the coaches, the backroom boys and most importantly, the fans. That's what he brings to his stories. Knowledge, fairness and understanding are trademarks of a Wharnsby story. That's what you will get here as he writes for CBCSports.ca.
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