Penguins' veterans admonish team for effort after loss to Coyotes

The Coyotes' Martin Hanzal takes out the Penguins' Olli Maatta in front of goaltender Marc-Andre fleury in the second period Tuesday, March 25, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
The Coyotes' Martin Hanzal takes out the Penguins' Olli Maatta in front of goaltender Marc-Andre fleury in the second period Tuesday, March 25, 2014, at Consol Energy Center.
Photo by Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
| Tuesday, March 25, 2014, 10:00 p.m.

Rob Scuderi said the Penguins lack “passion.”

Matt Niskanen said they are short on “pride.”

Brooks Orpik said some words will remain part of his private address to teammates after the Penguins lost 3-2 to the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday night at Consol Energy Center.

The Penguins are troubled, and with only 10 games remaining before the Stanley Cup playoffs, there is a sense that a once-inspiring season is headed for another early postseason exit.

“The biggest thing for us is that we lack a little bit of passion right now,” Scuderi said. “It's not in our game, especially on the penalty kill.”

The Penguins have surrendered nine power-play goals since the NHL's Olympics break.

They are 6-6-2 over that stretch.

The penalty kill, once ranked No. 1 overall, had allowed 23 goals in 58 pre-Olympics contests.

Technically, the Coyotes' winning goal was not scored on the power play, but the Penguins were down a player in the defensive zone.

Winger Jussi Jokinen had just stepped onto the ice — he was serving a minor penalty for slashing — when Phoenix's Mikkel Boedker bested goalie Marc-Andre Fleury to break a 2-2 tie in the second period.

Jokinen had taken his penalty in the offensive zone, and it irked coach Dan Bylsma.

Two other Penguins — captain Sidney Crosby (high sticking) and winger James Neal (slashing) — also committed offensive-zone infractions. Neal's came with 46 seconds remaining in regulation and Fleury pulled for an extra attacker.

Neal said last week he needed to do “a better job” when it came to discipline.

Orpik said then that he was not sure there existed evidence the Penguins would change their reputable undisciplined ways.

The longest-tenured Penguin and in the final season of his contract, Orpik also seemed confounded by the lack of composure from a group that included then-seven healthy regulars from the 2009 Cup championship club.

Orpik was not confounded after this loss.

Rather, Orpik admonished his teammates during a brief closed-door session.

Center Brandon Sutter said Orpik mentioned the offensive-zone penalties during his address.

Forward Craig Adams, one of those seven Stanley Cup Penguins, said the offensive-zone penalties — and discipline troubles — were “very concerning.”

The Penguins were “flat all game” against the Coyotes, Niskanen said.

The Coyotes had lost in overtime at the New York Rangers on Monday night. The Penguins had a short practice, and their Olympics players were given the day off.

“The guys in here need to show some energy and enthusiasm,” Niskanen said. “We need to show more pride than we did.”

The Penguins (47-20-5, 97 points) defiantly had overcome injuries before the Olympics, racing to the East's best point total.

The injuries have not stopped, and the Penguins are on pace to become only the third team in the past four full seasons to top 500 man-games lost to injury.

A lot more than center Evgeni Malkin's foot — a hairline fracture — seemingly is broken, though.

“The passion we have for the game isn't there right now,” Scuderi said.

Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.

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