Much will potentially be revealed tonight in Columbus in terms of how the Penguins react in Game 3 against the Blue Jackets.
The most light, in retrospect, might be shed on how the Penguins reacted internally following their Game 2 collapse.
That was a game Pittsburgh lost much more than Columbus won.
The Penguins had a 3-1, second-period lead but opened the door by hemorrhaging a short-handed goal.
The wheels came off soon thereafter.
Defenseman Brooks Orpik had anticipated such a development prior to the start of the postseason, not necessarily a meltdown such as the one the Penguins experienced on Saturday night but a moment in time where it would become clear the Penguins were off track and in need of a little attitude adjustment.
Orpik also speculated as to where the most effective attitude adjustment might come from in such a situation.
“We gotta be hard on each other,” he said. “Everybody gets along in this room really well. Constructive criticism is welcome in here and I think that’s good. That’s good and that’s healthy when you have teammates pushing each other and getting on each other to do well as long as everyone’s doing it for the good of the team.”
Based on what we saw from the Penguins in Game 2, such conversations would have been an appropriate in-house response in advance of Game 3.
At least, they would have been in Rick Tocchet’s estimation.
“If you don’t have arguments in the room I don’t think you’re going to win a Stanley Cup,” Tocchet told the DVE Morning Show this morning. “I agree with Brooks Orpik. There are going to be situations where somebody’s gotta be called out or the room has gotta have some kind of confrontation. Now, listen, they’re good confrontations. You can’t be disconnected but sometimes you have to call players out. And I think after that game, especially after that short-handed goal and Columbus won the game, if you’re a leader in that room I would definitely get in some people’s faces.
“That’s just inexcusable, especially after (allowing) a short-handed goal in Game 1. You can’t worry about individual stats or individual play in that situation. It’s basically, 3-1, you’re looking for that power play to get as many shots on net, pound the puck and basically rip the heart out of Columbus if you score there.
“Yeah, I would be upset after that game. And I think they have some players that will do that, absolutely.”
A conversation or two or more along those lines would seemingly resonate in a more focused, more efficient and a more responsible and accountable effort from the Penguins tonight in Game 3.
The Pens are clearly in need of a reminder as to the importance of all of the above right about now.
And the coaches can only do so much in terms of providing it.