Pens' Crosby: Adversity isn't 'end of the world'
The Penguins know their performance against the New York Islanders on Tuesday was troubling and that their benign 3-3-0 record illustrates that they've looked nothing like a Stanley Cup contender through six games.
They also realize that because of the truncated schedule, only 42 games remain to find their way before the postseason begins.
Panic is running rampant among fans, but the Penguins insist everything is fine.
“I don't think a little adversity this time of year is the end of the world,” captain Sidney Crosby said.
Starting Thursday at Madison Square Garden, Crosby and his teammates can test that theory because the Penguins rarely have looked so vulnerable during their stretch of six consecutive playoff appearances.
“We aren't playing the way we need to play,” coach Dan Bylsma said.
Crosby and fellow star Evgeni Malkin aren't lighting up scoreboards through six games, the special teams have been poor, turnovers are being committed at a startling rate and the Penguins have not been a physical team — something Bylsma and general manager Ray Shero demand.
Malkin admitted to being displeased with his team's start, but he is refusing to panic.
“It's all right,” Malkin said. “Yeah, we lost our last game. Still positive, looking forward. Nothing bad. We've just played six games. Just keep going.”
One of the newest Penguins suggested that showing more passion against the Rangers would be a good way to extinguish the funk.
“We just didn't play with any gumption or any fight in our last game,” left wing Tanner Glass said. “You aren't going to win too many games in this league playing that way.”
Gumption and fight, of course, are qualities the Penguins should be able to locate without additions to the lineup.
Glass said he believes it is a matter of time before the Penguins start playing like the team many tabbed as the preseason Stanley Cup favorite.
“You're only as good as your last game in this league,” he said. “It doesn't matter what the experts say or all the preseason predictions. And yeah, when you're winless at home, it's cause for concern. But to be honest, nobody in here is alarmed at all. We know what we can do.”
The Penguins' problems appear to be isolated to their forwards. Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was pulled against the Islanders but played well in victories against Philadelphia and Ottawa.
Also, Penguins defensemen — notably the duo of Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik — generally have played well.
However, Penguins forwards are turning the puck over more than they are scoring.
Shero has invested close to $37 million in contracts in his forwards this season.
“I think everyone knows we need to be better,” center Joe Vitale said. “But as for our last game, it was one night. I don't care if you're a construction worker or a hockey team. Sometimes you have a bad night. That's all it was.”
Time is on the Penguins' side, for now.
While starting fast was clearly preferred, history suggests the Penguins hardly will be doomed if they struggle for a couple of more weeks.
Of the eight teams that qualified for the postseason in the 48-game season in 1995, four were under .500 through six games.
“Every game is more important right now,” right wing Craig Adams said. “No one is going to panic, but we have to face some facts. We haven't played well enough. We've got to be better.”