How to End a Slump

Pittsburgh Penguins . (Photo by Derek Cain/Getty Images)
Pittsburgh Penguins . (Photo by Derek Cain/Getty Images) /

The Pittsburgh Penguins are in a slump.  Period.  The Pens started the season with a bang, going 4-0-1 and are now sitting at 4-5-2…ouch.  What happened?  I’ll tell ya what happened.

The Backstory

The Penguins have made the NHL Playoffs for 16 consecutive seasons.  The Pens have Crosby #87, Malkin #71 and Letang #58, a trio of All-World Players on their roster,  who have played together for what is now their 17th season.  The Pittsburgh Penguins have been bounced in the First Round of the NHL Playoffs for the last 4 years in a row.

The Pens thought they had a Stanley Cup Team last year.  However, the New York Rangers edged them out of the playoffs, with a Game 7, overtime loss.  Ugh.

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This Season

The Penguins carried the pain of another First Round Exit and much pent-up frustration from past failures, into this upcoming season.   Both Letang and Malkin were re-signed, as were many other pieces from last year.


The schedule maker was nice to the Penguins, having them play a Home Opener against a Bottom Feeder, Arizona.  A nice easy game to get into the season, Penguins win 6-2.

Next up, was the Perennial Stanley Cup contender Tampa Bay Lightning.  Well, when you end the season with a bad taste in your mouth and feel as though you would have made it to the Stanley Cup Finals, you want to show the Final Four TB Lightning what you are made of.  And the Penguins did, winning 6-2.

Then came a 3-2 Overtime loss to Les Canadiens, followed by a pair of victories over LA, 6-1 and Columbus, 6-3.

Now, as you can see, the Penguins are Happy with the Wins.  They are Lighting the Lamp at a 6 goals per game pace (which is unsustainable).  They are as Healthy as they have been over the last two years ( now they are getting banged up by the game).  And, they have exorcized some Demons from last year (Beating TB and LA).

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The Reality

Last Year is Last Year.  Pumping everybody in the first five games in October does not rectify the early exit from May.

So now, the Penguins head out on The Western Road Trip and get smoked by Edmonton and Calgary.  Ok, maybe they are good Teams and maybe we were tired.  However, getting pumped by Vancouver and losing in Seattle is just plain not an option for a Stanley Cup Contender.

Next up, is a spirted Overtime Loss to the League’s Best Team in the standings, the Bruins. Follow that up with another kicking from a Long-time Basement Dweller, Buffalo (they are actually an improved team this year), and you have yourself a FULL-BLOWN SLUMP.

The Pittsburgh Penguins Official Slump stands at 6 games and counting.  What happened? What changed? And how do we end this misery?

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Here is my Formula on How to End a Slump.

Slumps are both Fact and Reality.

The Fact is, You and Your Team are losing every time you play.  The Reality is You and Your Team are the only ones who can get out of the mess by Playing and Winning.  Hoping, Wishing, and Praying will not end a slump.

Slumps are Both Physical and Mental. 

The Fact is, You and Your Team are getting beat Physically, each time you play.  The Second Fact is that You and Your Team can Mentally get out of this rut, if All Y’all can just put your Minds to it.  The Collective is Always Greater than the Individual.  Period.

To Get Out of a Slump, Physically and Mentally, Everybody Must…

Come to Play with your best effort each night. Period.

Take Pride in Playing Rock-Solid Great Team Defense as a Unit.

Take Pride in playing solid D against your opposition, shift over shift.  No half-hearted efforts please.

Backcheck with a purpose, don’t fake it.  Come back and help like its game 7 for the Cup.

Backcheck Like Ya Actually Care About Stopping a Goal.

Everyone must understand their role on the team as well as with defensive coverages and execute to this parameter.

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To Get Out of a Slump, Physically and Mentally, Everybody Must…

Box Out the Opposition in front of your own net (Defense and Forwards).  Period.

Understand when to play Man on Man D, as well Zone D.

Understand when to switch defending opposition players, who criss-cross.

Communication is Key, Speak Up Out There.

Hold the Line when the opposition enters your own zone.  Meaning, you can back up somewhat as the play enters your D-Zone, however, not so much, so you are on top of your own goalie.

Keep the Opposition to the outside, At All Times.

Keep your opposition shooting from far as much as possible.

Block Shots the right way, especially when it matters.

Make the opposition Fear Entering Your D-Zone.

Hit the opposition wherever and whenever it makes sense.  Be Aggressive.

Be Tough on the Puck.  It’s Your Puck.  Remember playing Keep Away as a Kid.  Do That.

During a scramble, ice the puck.  This allows the line to re-set and /or re-align defensively, or for the coach to change lines all together.

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Goalies Must Stop the First Shot.  Period.

Goalies Must Limit Rebounds.

Goalies Must stop the play any time they can.  Again, this allows for the line to re-set and /or re-align defensively, or for the coach to change lines all together.

Everyone Must Clear Out People in Front of the Goalie, so they can see the oncoming shot or play developing.

Centermen, Win the Faceoff.  Period.  Puck Possession is Key to Victory.

Everyone, understand when to come off for a line change.

Limit Taking Unnecessary Penalties.  This reduces your Penalty Kill time on the Ice and allows for more 5 on 5 game play.

Make Smart Passes to Open Players.

Skate to Open Ice as fast as possible.

My View from the Cheap Seats

Section: TV     Row: PVR     Seat: The Couch

The simple answer to ending a slump is just score more than your opposition.  This is true, however, in reality, you must therefore stop the opposition from scoring more than you too.

We all know Defense Wins Championships, so Ya Gotta Play some Tough D peeps.

Play with Confidence, (mistakes happen, learn, and move forward).

Play with Passion, (if you don’t love the game, it shows).

Play with Purpose, (understand what your objective is, team and personal and why you are doing what you are doing.)

Play with Motivation, (only you, can motivate you, to do, what you need to do.  Period).

So, Everybody…

Take it One Shift at a Time.

Take it One Period at a Time.

Take it One Game at a Time.

Which will then allow you to concentrate on One Week at a Time, then One Month at a Time.

This Process builds your Personal Confidence as well as Team Confidence along the way.

Relax, stay calm, and breath.  You have the right amount of talent, proper mental capacity and have trained your entire life, you got this.

Quote of the Day:

“Keep Calm, Breathe On”