Penguins should blame themselves for playoff failure
This is becoming a familiar story for a Penguins' franchise that won a Cup in 2009. Since that postseason, however, the playoffs have been an absolute nightmare for the Penguins.
Going into this postseason, things were supposed to be different. With the exception of Pascal Dupuis, this was a healthy Penguins' team that had the right ingredients to make a run at hockey's Holy Grail.
After struggling to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets in six games in the first round and then losing Game 1 to the New York Rangers in the second round, the Penguins seemed to get things back on track. The club won Games 2, 3, and 4 and headed back to Pittsburgh with a stranglehold on the series.
That is when things changed in a bad way for the Penguins. The team went on to lose three straight games and their second round series to the New York Rangers, abruptly ending their Cup dreams.
One reason why this team lost this series is because their best player, Sidney Crosby, was a non-factor. This was a player who led the league in points in the regular season and is a finalist for the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player and yet, when his team needed him the most, he was not there to deliver.
In the team's seven game series against the Blueshirts, Crosby had just three points on one goal and two assists. The Blueshirts constantly pressured Crosby, put bodies all over him and did not give him any room to operate and as a result, frustrated Crosby into playing perhaps some of his worst hockey in his career.
Crosby was not the only Penguin who did not do much this series. The came could be said of the likes of Evgeni Malkin, Chris Kunitz, James Neal, Lee Stempniak, Kris Letang, Paul Martin and others.
The Penguins also did not get the goaltending they needed from Marc-Andre Fleury. Yes, Fleury played well in Games 2, 3, and 4, but he was not able to close out the series when his team needed him to.
For Fleury, this was simply same story, different playoffs. Since winning a Cup in 2009, Fleury has not performed well in the playoffs and in this series, showed that he could not perform up to the level that his counterpart, Henrik Lundqvist, did.
Lastly, it can be said that Penguins' head coach Dan Bylsma was out-coached by Rangers' bench boss Alain Vigneault. Yes, it is on the players to get the job done on the ice, but in the end, Bylsma could not get the team going when they needed to the most.
As the team's head coach, Bylsma should have been able to deliver the message to his team after Game 4 that it was imperative for them to close out the series in a quick fashion. Instead, the Penguins let the Rangers crawl back into the series and in the end, beat them on their home ice in Game 7.
The Penguins have no one to blame but themselves for another failed postseason.