The Pittsburgh Penguins' quest for the franchise's fourth Stanley Cup has hit a snag. Big time!
The high-flying Penguins are looking anything but after two games at home in the Eastern Conference Final against the Boston Bruins. The top-seeded club was shut out for the first time in 16 months in Game 1 before dropping a 6-1 decision Monday night.
The team now sits in an 0-2 deficit heading into Games 3 and 4 at TD Bank Garden in Boston, and while it would be too soon to say the series is over, the Penguins need to turn things around in a hurry.
But how do they do that? For a team loaded with talent and built to win the Stanley Cup, fans are left asking themselves: What's wrong with the Penguins?
The team looks frustrated playing against a Bruins club that is seemingly taking away the open space they enjoyed during first and second round wins over the New York Islanders and Ottawa Senators.
The frustration was no more evident than in Game 1.
Forward Matt Cooke earned a major penalty and a game misconduct for checking from behind after hitting Bruins defenceman Adam McQuaid, forward Chris Kunitz was handed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after mixing it up with Bruins centre Rich Peverley and reigning NHL MVP Evgeni Malkin fought Patrice Bergeron. Captain Sidney Crosby also got into a nose-to-nose screaming match with Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. In all, the Penguins racked up 28 penalty minutes in the first game.
Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma said that emotions were the area most in need of repair heading into Game 2. The team seemed to bottle that - just four minutes in the sin bin in Game 2 - but the loss was something much more unsettling. It was humiliating.
Through two home games in the series, Crosby, Malkin, Kris Letang, Jarome Iginla, Chris Kunitz, James Neal and Pascal Dupuis have combined for zero points and a minus-24 rating. The Penguins' power play, the best in regular season, was 0-for-6 in Game 2 and they had 20 giveaways to the Bruins' three.
In goal, things aren't looking much better. The Bruins scored three times in 17 minutes to chase Tomas Vokoun out of the net in Game 2. Vokoun gave up three first-period goals on 12 shots before being replaced by Marc-Andre Fleury.
Bylsma did not say who would be his goaltender for Game 3, saying it was "tough" to evaluate how both Fleury and Vokoun played, given the way the team performed in front of them.
So as the series shifts back to Boston, the Penguins are in need of figuring out what's wrong and why they can't produce against a team they beat in all three of their regular season meetings. Do you know what they need to do to turn this series around?
What's wrong with the Penguins?
As always, It's Your! Call.