Mar 25, 2014; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby (87) turns up ice with the puck against the Phoenix Coyotes during the third period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Phoenix Coyotes won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh's Recent Losing Habits Provide Valuable Lesson

 

The Pittsburgh Penguins have fallen into a rut.

After they failed to reign victorious over the Phoenix Coyotes and their backup goaltender, Tuesday, Pittsburgh’s problems stem further than a shelf full of ailing players.

Although it’s easy to sympathize with Pittsburgh – due to all their significant injuries – it’s also a poor excuse, given they’ve endured lineup losses the whole season.

Now, of course, Evgeni Malkin’s recent ailment might have been the last straw, considering how imperative he is to their success, but this is a team sport, and sometimes you need to find ways to win, regardless of who’s available.

And that’s what the Pens’ must start doing – winning.

However, to do that, Pittsburgh’s got to exercise more urgency – will – if they plan on going further than the first round this postseason. That’s why losing five of their last seven contests is a perfect learning experience; showing that despite how talented they are, if you don’t want to come out on top, the opposition will exploit that.

The timing is also advantageous, because it’s better to adjust your issues before you run into them during an elimination round. When you face that obstacle – attempting to fix problems in a series – pressing factors in 90-percent of the time, due to how long each round lasts, and therefore, room for error is extremely minimal.

Avoiding those situations are Pittsburgh’ top priority. So, that’s why their current losing streak serves as a valuable lesson. You can’t take anything for granted, and if you let up for just a split second, your adversary will capitalize on that invisibility.

Now, with that being said, the Pens’ remaining schedule also bodes in their favor. In the 10 games left, Pittsburgh has to play the defending Stanley Cup champions (Chicago Blackhawks), the Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings – who are both in full desperation mode – and the Philadelphia Flyers, who present a formidable tuneup right before the playoffs.

While people are perhaps wondering what’s wrong with Pittsburgh, including myself, it’s not the end of the world.

Sometimes when your team owns two of the top-three players in the NHL, we forget that they’re nowhere near invincible, and expect too much of them. Talent may be the prominent aspect that determines game outcomes in other sports, but in hockey, that couldn’t be anymore false. Anybody can beat you at anytime.

The sooner Pittsburgh recognizes they can’t win on skill-level alone, the better off they’ll be.

Execution is just not there right now. Yes, maybe they are feeling the effects of the Olympics, injuries, and cyclic highs-and-lows, but the great teams overcome those barriers.

For once, I’m really hoping Pittsburgh acknowledges its vulnerabilities. I pray they do; because suffering through another putrid postseason performance is something I, and arguably the rest of the Pens’ faithful, can no longer tolerate.

This team is too well-built, has a plethora of experience, and possesses abnormal firepower, to just be utterly dominated as they have in the past two playoff’ tries.

Tonight would be a good opportunity to wake up. And I believe they will. We’ll see.

The game can be seen on the ROOT Network, and is set to start at 7 p.m.

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