Talent Alone Won’t Cut It, The Pens Have To Work For It


May 7, 2013; Uniondale, NY, USA; New York Islanders center Casey Cizikas (53) celebrates his goal with teammates during the third period against the Pittsburgh Penguins in game four of the first round of the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Islanders won 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

Tell me if this sounds familiar — the Pittsburgh Penguins jump up out to a two goal cushion early — only to let the match open-up and allow their opposition to storm back for a surprising win.

Sounds a lot like the 2012 NHL playoffs right?

Now before Pens fans start worrying about the team following their Game 2 demise to the New York Islanders — they must understand that this is just one contest, and losses in the playoffs shouldn’t come as a shock.

But with that being said — it doesn’t matter how much talent or experience you have, because any team can lose at any time in the NHL playoffs.

Pittsburgh has got to wake up.

They beat the Isles convincingly without captain Sidney Crosby in Game 1 — so what.

The Pens played a team that skated in their first postseason contest since 2007.  If there was anything they should’ve taken from Game 1 — it was to forget about it.

Unfortunately that wasn’t the case and viewers witnessed the same woes that irked Pittsburgh last season.

The excessive turnovers, languid puck management, and lackadaisical defense were the same blunders made when Philadelphia exiled them in 2012.

But the errors that carried the most weight were undoubtedly the penalties — and they’re often times committed when the player is too emotionally involved — which also happened last year.

Penguins mirrored bad memories — and it’s got to stop.

Soon as Pittsburgh let the Isles on the power play — early in the game mind you — forward Matt Moulson scored New York’s first goal of the series, igniting the young adrenaline draped within his teams’ bench.

Newsflash — power plays let a struggling team back into games regardless of how good the penalty kill may be.

Now does some of the laid-back play come as a direct result of Crosby’s return?

It’s not a totally bizarre theory — but the Pens might’ve felt a little too comfortable heading into their second game.

And this isn’t to say they all gave their captain excessive workload or pushed less effort — but it was a little odd to have these same sequences occur just as Crosby gets reinserted.

Given this was basically Crosby’s first rodeo with his new teammates (Jarome Iginla, Jussi Jokinen, Brenden Morrow, Douglas Murray) there was expected to be some slight rust — so his (as well as his new teammates) timing might be a little off.

As time elapses, hopefully the pieces will finally fit the puzzle.

Still, there is a cause for concern in Pittsburgh, and whatever has to be fixed must be addressed pronto.

The team — whether they like to hear it or not — is going to face harsh scrutiny should they collapse in the first-round two years in a row.

Especially with the team they have.

It’s not the way I look at it — but the media will eat up the fact that this team has two of the three best players in the NHL and lost in consecutive years to subpar opponents.

If Pittsburgh wants that elusive hardware at the end of the season — they must work for it.

They need to glance at their 09′ film or something.

Game 3 is Sunday on Long Island at noon.