|Sidney Crosby says his scoring drought isn’t weighing on him, but it seems like it is||06.07.13 at 12:52 pm ET|
Sidney Crosby is finding no silver lining when it comes to his scoring drought.
In going the first three games without a point, Crosby is in his longest scoreless streak in since November of 2009. He won a faceoff against Patrice Bergeron in Game 3 to set up a Chris Kunitz goal, but through three games this series, he has a total of zero points and is a minus-2.
“Sometimes that’s the way it goes,” he said when asked if his drought has been a weight on his shoulders. “You get chances and they don’t go in. Unfortunately they haven’t the first few. You’ve got to trust that they will. I don’t think it’s something that I’ve thought about too much, to be honest with you.”
Here’s the thing, though. Evgeni Malkin doesn’t have a point, either. Nor do Jarome Iginla, James Neal or Kris Letang. Yet all anyone’s talking about is Crosby. As a captain, he could welcome the heat as a means of letting his teammates avoid criticism as the Penguins trying to get back in the series. Does he?
“I don’t welcome not scoring,” Crosby said.
“I want to score,” he said. “I think that everybody wants to. The playoffs are tight-checking. You have to realize that you have to take advantage of your chances, but if you don’t, you’ve got to find ways to put it in. There’s no way around it. There’s no trying to make something positive of it besides [recognizing] they’re good chances. You’ve got to find a way to score goals.”
The Penguins have just two goals this series.
Pittsburgh radio host Mark Madden, who earned the enmity of Bruins fans earlier in the week when he insisted that Tuukka Rask is a mediocre goalie, joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning and was asked if his opinion has changed now that the Bruins have a 3-0 series lead.
“God knows, he’s had trouble winning the fourth game in the past, so I’d rather reserve judgment,” Madden said of Rask. “He’s played very well, the goalposts have done very well, too.
“But to me, the story of this series has been [David] Krejci and the job Claude Julien has done outcoaching Dan Bylsma,” Madden continued. “Bylsma did a better job in the third game, but he waited 120 minutes to make adjustments he should have been making after 40. Whereas Claude Julien has been one step ahead all the time. He’s coached an excellent series. Gutsy lineup change yanking [Matt] Bartkowski and putting [Andrew] Ference back in, but Ference has played very well. Those are the guys I give primary credit to.
“The Penguins just have not had an answer for David Krejci. He plays such a quiet game, but I mean that in a good way. Before you know it he’s open, a split-second after that it’s in the net. He’s just been amazing.”
“I think Crosby’s played a bigger role in Crosby’s disappearance,” Madden said. “I’ve got to be honest, the Penguins as a team have not handled adversity well, which is a disturbing pattern in the last four playoff years. I thought that the stars played a bit better for the Penguins in Game 3. But still, a loss is a loss, there’s no moral victories. And Crosby, [Evgeni] Malkin and [Kris] Letang have no points between them and are a combined minus-12. Like Mario Lemieux always used to say, ‘When you make the most money, you’ve got to do the most.’ And those guys make the most money.”
Matt Cooke, already reviled in Boston, has not earned any new friends with his chippy play in this series. Madden said he expects Cooke to be playing elsewhere next season.
Said Madden: “Matt Cooke is perceived by a lot of people — and I bought into it at first — into having a good playoffs because he’s [doing] a good job on the penalty kill and he’s been a good forechecker. But he has zero goals in the playoffs. How can any forward on the top three lines be perceived to be having a good playoffs if he has zero goals? Plus, he’s taken a ton of penalties. The Penguins will be well rid of Matt Cooke. That’s not to say he won’t help another team. But they’re just tired of his act. That’s in the locker room, too. ‘¦ Guys are just tired of having to clean up his messes.”
|Sidney Crosby: ‘I thought we deserved better’||06.06.13 at 12:14 pm ET|
And in the mind of the superstar, that’s a starting point for trying to get back in an Eastern Conference final series they trail 3-0 heading into Game 4 Friday night at TD Garden.
“Unfortunately, we’re kind of comparing Game 2, and we didn’t give ourselves a chance, so we can’t get that one back,” Crosby said. “We gave that one to them so-to-speak. We did a lot better job tonight, but that doesn’t guarantee anything. We do a lot of these same things, and I think we all trust and believe we can get this back to Pittsburgh.
“I think we responded pretty well. Unfortunately, that Game 2 nobody really liked the way that turned out, and what happened there. I thought we responded well and did everything we could have besides get that last one.”
Crosby had three of Pittsburgh’s 54 shots on the night and was a plus-1 for the night. He best scoring chance might have been a shot when he wasn’t even facing the net.
Late in the first period, and with the Penguins down, 1-0, Crosby was spun around in front of Tuukka Rask and flipped a backhander on goal. The shot rang off the post as Rask was caught slightly out of position.
“I didn’t’ really know where the net was, but I heard it hit the post,” Crosby said. “Obviously it was kind of a scrambled play but it would have been nice for it to go in.”
Evgeni Malkin had 10 shots on goal but he and Crosby are still scoreless in the series through three games.
“I think if we play the same way we’re going to get our chances,” Crosby said. “I thought we generated more scoring chances than them, and I thought we deserved better.
“I think the whole game we felt really comfortable with our play. I think we felt like it was just a matter of time before we were going to get it. Unfortunately they didn’t, and hung around, and got the one at the end.”
“This team, you go back to the Toronto series, is this the same team? What did they do? Absolutely amazing,” Orr said. “They didn’t play great against Toronto. The 10 minutes of the last game, an unbelievable comeback. They played a little better against the Rangers. But in this series, they’re playing as well now as they did in ’11. They’ve completely dominated Pittsburgh. ‘¦ They’re playing their big guys against their big guys, and the Bruin guys that are supposed to score are scoring, Tuukka [Rask] has been unbelievable. I don’t know what happened. But Claude [Julien] and the coaching staff got them playing great. Very impressive. Very impressive.”
Added Orr: “This is team is playing unbelievable hockey. And people are going to say, ‘Well, Pittsburgh’s not playing very well.’ Well, the Bruins aren’t letting them play. They’re all over them, they’re not giving them any room. And when they get those chances, Tuukka’s coming up huge for that team. It’s a team effort.”
“I don’t agree with that at all, about him being overrated and this guy not doing da-da-da-da,” Orr said. “Let’s look at what the Bruins are doing. they’re not giving them one inch. You want to play tough? The Bruins are there. Finesse? Every player that’s supposed to — whatever the players’ strength is, that player is playing to his full strength. It’s wonderful to watch. And they’re defense, wow. Defensively they’re very, very strong.”
Gregory Campbell took a slap shot off his leg late in the second period but showed toughness by getting back to his feet and struggling to help the B’s penalty kill for almost a minute until the puck was cleared and he had a chance to get to the bench.
“What that kid did last night — I mean, they’re reporting he may have a broken leg. He obviously he was in pain, and he hung in there,” Orr said. “That’s the team. That’s the team right there. That’s what they are right now. We saw what they’re made of. This team has a ton of character. A ton of character.”
Added Orr: “What he did was incredible. Certainly it gave the team a great lift. Certainly the fans appreciated what Gregory did.”
|Penguins know they need to play better from behind||06.05.13 at 2:23 pm ET|
Two years ago, scoring the goal didn’t necessarily mean anything huge early in the Eastern Conference. The team that scored the first goal between the Bruins and Lightning went 2-3 in the first five games of the season, proving that getting on the board early is important, but it isn’t everything.
That hasn’t been the case this year. In two games, the Bruins have scored the first goal and eventually seen the Penguins go through lifeless stretches as they struggle to play from behind. Pittsburgh had just 13 shots on goal through the first two periods in Game 2, and the chances they got were limited.
So the Penguins enter Game 3 knowing that if they fall behind Wednesday, they can’t pack it in. Remember, this is the same team that came back from a 2-0 deficit against the Bruins with three goals to win in regulation on March 12. They have it within to be a team that plays well from behind, but they just haven’t done it thus far.
“I think the latter half of the games was us deviating from the plan,” Dan Bylsma said of the first two games of the series. “Boston was up at that point in both those hockey games, playing very well and getting to the scoreboard early in contests and then playing well the rest of the way and us, the latter half of both games, looking for offense, pressing the issue and getting away from our game plan.”
Pascal Dupuis said Wednesday that playing from behind against the Bruins is especially difficult because of how much the B’s clog the middle once they’re ahead. That makes the Penguins’ job tougher offensively and forces them to make more chances, which then leads to turnovers. That, partially, can explain just how lopsided the scoring has been (9-1).
Obviously, the Penguins need goals any way they can get them. They’d like the first goal, but if they can’t get it they still need to generate more offense than they have. Sidney Crosby, like Bylsma, feels that the key is to not try anything drastically different once they fall behind.
“We don’t have to chase it,” Crosby said. “I don’t think we need to try to get that one back with one big play, if that’s the case. I think we believe in our game, trust in our game. The regular season would be a good example of that. We’re down 2-0 and it takes a while to finally get that first one, but we just stuck with things. It’s more about the process of the game and playing the right way than maybe the results right away.”
From the Bruins’ perspective, scoring first has meant good things, so they obviously view getting on the board early as a key to potentially taking a 3-0 series lead Wednesday.
“In any game, the first goal is always a good one to get,” Milan Lucic said. “It kinds of builds momentum, builds confidence, but the series is still early. Fortunately we were able to get the first goals in both games, and it’s going to be a big one, whoever gets it tonight.”
|David Krejci: ‘We’ve got to stay in the moment’||06.04.13 at 8:06 pm ET|
He has eight goals and 12 assists for 20 points. He did it again on Monday night in Game 2 with the third goal of the contest. He knows full well that a 2-0 series lead means nothing. He also led the playoffs in scoring two years ago with 23 points.
Speaking of 2011, he knows that the Bruins were down 0-2 in the first round after losing the first two games at home. He knows the Bruins came back and won a pair of games in Montreal to tie the series.
“The past few years I think we’ve been up 2-0 in a series,” Krejci said. “We’ve been down 2-0, and it went either way, so I think we’ve learned from that and we’ve got to stay in the moment and just take it game by game.
“We’re going to have to play even better than we did because they’re going to be desperate. It’s a really important game. It’s a big difference if it’s 3-0 for us or 2-1 for us, so it’s going to be a big game. The game is going to start from 0-0 so we’ve got to be ready to get off [with] a good start.”
So far, the best forward in this series is Krejci, not Sidney Crosby, and it’s not close. Krejci has three goals with a plus-3 rating. Crosby has no points and is a minus-3.
“We’re just going on the faceoff and trying to win,” Krejci said. “It doesn’t matter who you go against [in faceoffs]. Obviously you know who you’re going against, but your mindset is to win and do whatever it takes to win the faceoff.”
NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire checked in with Mut & Merloni on Tuesday morning to break down the Bruins’ 6-1 victory over the Penguins in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.
The Penguins have been the harder-hitting team in the first two games, but the Bruins have dominated on the scoreboard. McGuire said the Pens are making the same mistake they did a year ago, altering their style to try to match a more physical opponent.
“They didn’t learn their lesson from last year against Philadelphia. They tried to do the same thing with Philadelphia last year and they got banged out,” McGuire said. “You saw the frustration with [Sidney] Crosby, you saw the frustration with [Evgeni] Malkin, you saw the frustration with [Kris] Letang. You’re seeing a lot of the same stuff right now.
“[Penguins general manager] Ray Shero tried to address it. That’s why he brought in Brenden Morrow, that’s why he brought in Jarome Iginla, that’s why he brought in Jussi Jokinen, that’s why he brought in Douglas Murray — older players that can maybe stabilize situations if there were negative times in a playoff run. It hasn’t worked so far in this round. We’ll see.
“This is my one caveat to everybody: I did the last series between Detroit and Chicago, and there was so much frustration on the Chicago side of things [when the Blackhawks were down 3-1] it was unbelievable. They were melting down before everybody’s eyes. And then they just role-reversed it and eventually won the series. Anything can happen. But the Bruins have really earned to be in this position. They really merit where they are right now.”
While the Penguins have shown a lack of focus and discipline, the Bruins appear to be playing with more intensity.
Said McGuire: “There’s a heart there, there’s a soul there. There’s a Bruin passion. ‘¦ There’s a lot to be said about the character of the city of Boston, about the players that represent the city of Boston and about the fans that go to the games there and watch the games. There’s a lot to be said. I think emotion matters a lot in our sport, and there’s a lot to be said about ‘Boston Strong.’ ”