The Pittsburgh Penguins locker room demeanor was imperceptibly different following their Game 2, 5-1 loss the Philadelphia Flyers. Players were laughing and arguing about some story which involved an army helmet and knapsack, Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel were all smiles in the back, and Jamie Oleksiak was chirped for missing a pass.
They at all points looked and sounded like a team which has faced much worse than a Game 2 loss in Round 1.
Even questions about Claude Giroux’s hit on Kris Letang brought a slight chuckle from Crosby, but not in the ha-ha sense. Crosby chuckled at the reality of the NHL declining to further examine the hit which sent Letang skates over helmet despite not recently playing the puck.
Mike Sullivan couldn’t help crack a smirk as he left the media room, after he abruptly refused to answer the Letang question, as well.
“No,” Sullivan said firmly.
Evgeni Malkin had plenty to say about Game 2. Malkin echoed sentiments the Penguins had a lot of chances and merely need to continue the same.
“We had great chances last night. We had an empty net and a couple of posts,” said Malkin. “Score one goal and, like, confidence is coming.”
Malkin expressed the confidence of a team which can’t be surprised anymore.
“We know its a physical team. We know its like lots of fights,” Malkin said. “And, we are ready. We’re not going to play soft.”
Malkin fearlessly dipped a toe in the Letang controversy and the officiating debate which gripped social media.
“The refereeing should be, I think, a little bit better. Last game, they gave (Hornqvist) a diving (penalty). I don’t agree.”
Actually, Malkin said, “I not agree.”
Crosby admitted the Penguins zone entry difference between Game 1 and Game 2. In Game 1, the Penguins barreled into the offensive zone like conquering heroes. In Game 2, the Flyers stacked the blue line, and the Penguins often were halted at the gates. Check out the postgame analysis and report card article for more. Or the Chalkboard feature.
“The first game, we were really good at our entries and skated into the zone,” said the Penguins captain. “Last game, I had a wide open net. If I put it in, we’re not talking about the power play.”
I may disagree. A good result doesn’t necessarily mean a good process. The Flyers PK stymied the Penguins PP. The Penguins had three shots on four power plays. Even if Crosby scored, that would have been four shots on four chances. Fans may not be as worried, but the process against the Flyers aggressive blueline wall was not good enough.
Like his teammates, Crosby also felt the Penguins played well enough to win.
“We put ourselves in a position to win, but that’s the nature of the playoffs.”
In 63 career games against the Philadephia Flyers, Crosby has 93 points (38g, 55a). He had nine points (2g, 7a) in four games this season and, of course, the natural hat trick in Game 1.
The Flyers may be wise to fear Crosby more than Pittsburgh fans fear the Flyers crowd (not that Penguins fans don’t have good reason to fear for the Flyers faithful).
Murray didn’t go as far as calling the Flyers first two markers soft, but he almost did.
“Those first two were tough ones,” said Murray. “I’ve got to do a better job at trying to keep those out.”
Also, Murray was unfortunately barraged by the national media types who wanted to ask Marc-Andre Fleury questions. Seriously, can we let that go yet? Murray was asked if he’s watching Fleury in the playoffs and the greatest lesson he learned from Fleury.
You could almost hear Murray’s inner voice scream–No! I’m a little busy here don’t you think?
Instead, after a pause, he politely sidestepped the questions. Though the pause got much longer on the second question.
If you read Matt Gajtka’s PHN Extra piece on Sidney Crosby, the playoffs bring everyone to the building. Media folks we don’t see all year and outlets which don’t really cover the Penguins, cover the playoffs. And…we, and the players, have to wade through it. (Though I flubbed an easy question yesterday, too).
So, apologies if you see some bland quotes over the next few weeks.