The Pens were as accountable in the aftermath as they had been awful on the ice against Edmonton.
So there’s that to cling to in the wake of Oilers 7, Penguins 2.
There isn’t much else.
The Pens are reeling, their season is on the brink of unraveling and even they seem to realize as much.
There weren’t any of the standard “we could have won but didn’t” rationalizations offered up this time, nothing referenced as something to build upon after the wheels had come completely off on Thursday night at PPG Paints Arena.
Instead, those who spoke seemingly did so from the heart.
Sidney Crosby even waited patiently for the media to finish grilling Kris Letang, in the event anyone had any questions for the captain of what looks suspiciously like a sinking ship.
A problem has to be acknowledged before it can be solved, right?
In honor of the Penguins who recognized that after failing to compete against the Oilers, here are the Three Stars of Postgame Response:
No. 3 Crosby:
“There’s lots of season left and we’re fighting for a playoff spot. Ideally, we’d be in a better position but we still have a chance to make the playoffs. It’s not easy to make the playoffs, I think we all realize that. But there’s lots of hockey left. I’m not going to talk about ‘this position.’ It’s the NHL and you gotta compete and earn your way into the playoffs. We’re not in a (playoff) spot right now but we still have an opportunity to make it. I’m not gonna talk about it that way because that’s not the situation. We can control our own destiny here.”
Crosby wanted no part of applying any historical context to a situation that’s fast approaching meltdown status, and seemed irritated, at least initially, by an invitation to do so. When the home fans are chanting for the general manager’s head, that’s clearly in response to something far beyond just another losing streak. But Crosby applied a stubborn defiance the Pens are going to need if they’re going to be able to somehow alter what appears to be the inevitable.
No. 2 Letang:
“It’s frustrating right now. We’re not playing the way we’re supposed to play. We get discouraged pretty quick and that’s something we shouldn’t have in this dressing room. It starts with the main guy, like me, Sid and ‘Geno’ (Evgeni Malkin). We have to step up our game and find a way to win. It doesn’t matter if it’s pretty or not. We have to grind it out and we have to push each other to be better. It’s just not good enough right now.”
Credit Letang for brutal honesty. But if he’s right about the Pens getting “discouraged pretty quick,” and the results of late suggest he’s spot on, that’s a bigger problem than the third line, the goaltending or the power play.”
No. 1 Mike Sullivan:
“Our roster is our roster so we have what we have.”
The Pens’ head coach was answering a specific question about why he’s been so patient with his lineup despite the repeated mistakes, inconsistencies and blown leads of late.
But it was nonetheless a reflection, unintentional, coincidental or otherwise, of Ron Hextall’s contribution to the Pens’ current plight.
It remains to be seen what if anything the embattled GM can do about that moving forward.