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Two games does not a panic-situation make


A discussion with somebody in the Penguins organization who has seen a lot more playoff hockey than me led me to this conclusion: We all forget far too fast.

The Penguins lost eight — 8 — games last postseason. They dropped a Game 5 at home in Round 1, and twice fell behind 2-0 to team that held home-ice advantage.

Amazingly, and perhaps shockingly, I can only presume to many fans given the oft-overreaction to every playoff loss, the Penguins still won the Stanley Cup.

Losing a Game 2 at home to the Montreal Canadiens hasn’t doomed the defending champs for this season. Of course, if anybody needs to feel better about the Penguins’ chances headed to Montreal, consider their 10-6 road record in the postseason under HC Dan Bylsma. Heck, this group of Penguins is 16-12 away from Mellon Arena in its playoff history. And yes, winning at Montreal’s wow-gosh-loud Bell Center is no easy chore, but can getting one win there — just one is all the Penguins need — be any more challenging than blowing out the Capitals at Washington in a Game 7 or twice winning elimination games at Detroit, where if the bouncy boards don’t doom a team the talented Red Wings usually do?

The answer, folks, is no.

Plus, woeful as Washington’s loss in Round 1 looks, nobody should forget that the Capitals won Games 3 and 4 at Montreal to take the 3-1 series lead they ultimately wasted away.

Game 2 was Montreal’s Game 7, because there was no way they were taking four of five from the Penguins had they gone down, 2-0.

The Penguins have not lost a game they HAD TO WIN since Game 6 of the 2008 Stanley Cup Final, at least not by my estimation — meaning I thought they could lose Game 2 at Washington and Detroit last season and still win those series, which they did to prove me right. So, by my count, the Penguins are 11-0 in must-win games since that Game 6 loss in 2008. These are the wins: Game 6 in Round 1 at Philly in 2009; Games 3,4 and 7 against the Capitals in 2009; Games 2,4, 6 and 7 against Detroit in 2009; and Games 3 and 6 at Ottawa last round.

So, some advice: relax. That adage that the Cup playoffs are a marathon not a sprint — thing is, it’s true.


For the most part in the playoffs Trib columnist Kevin Gorman is handling the blogging duties. As you can see, video is killing the newspaper star:

So, while I continue to stretch the limits of fashion, if not hair gel, be sure to keep looking for blog updates from the one we in Trib Land call Gormie the Owl:

Off to hockey’s capital city. Thanks for checking in.


Author: Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi is the lead sports columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has been called many names, but “Rossi” is the one to which he most often responds. He joined the Trib in November 2002 and was promoted to the columnist role in July 2014. Previously, he had covered the NHL’s Penguins (2006-14) and MLB’s Pirates (2006), while also working on beats associated with the NFL’s Steelers (2005-06) and the NCAA’s Pitt (2004-06). He has won national and local awards for his coverage of youth concussions and athletes’ charities. Also, he is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association executive committee and the Pittsburgh chapter chair. Raised in Crafton and Green Tree and a graduate of West Virginia University, he has covered a Super Bowl, All-Star Games in baseball and hockey, the NCAA basketball tournament and over 100 Stanley Cup playoff games, including the Cup Final twice. Oh, and his sports reporting has led him to brief chats with Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen; so that’s pretty cool. He is a regular contributor on TV with WPXI, Root Sports Pittsburgh and TSN. Also, he is the authorized biographer of Penguins star Evgeni Malkin.


  1. Bobby O says:

    No, two games tied at 1-1, isn’t a big deal. However; 2 games into the series without goals from Malkin, Crosby unable to find the net, (or even try to find it), Staal injured and playing against a trapping team now more resembling the New Jersey Devils — who the Pens couldn’t beat if they were a pinata — is a different matter.

    I think it’s a bigger deal than the Penguins and grave yard whistlers want to make of it and I’m sure the Canadians are happy the Penguins are still confident and not pushing any “panic” buttons yet and with Bill Guerin thinking they played fine in the last game, I bet even being down 2-1, it will be all smiles and happy faces for the over confident defending cups Champs.

  2. john says:

    One game may not make for a panic situation, but, sooner or later, the second line is going to be the undoing of the Penguins. Whether it’s Malkin or his linemates or both, the coaching staff needs to be a little more proactive when it comes to doing everything possible to getting Malkin going. Then again, they probably needed to be a little more proactive four months ago..

  3. Barrett says:

    Who’s panicking??

  4. Lisa says:

    Oh my! Rob has been Mr Doom and Gloom for most of this season, stating that he feels the Pens will make an early exit in the playoffs…..he has stated this several times. So now we should not be worried? I beg to differ. If Malkin doesn’t start to earn his salary and step up–we will all have issues. Crosby needs to do more, too. He played awful last night; the defense was MIA–Orpik looked lost and out of place; Letang’s feeble attempt to stop the 3d goal–what a disgrace. No one was pinching or finsihing their checks–except Cooke, Dupis, Talbot–they were the best players on the ice. And Fluery!?! He is a joke–this team has carried him for so long it is time for him to carry them….or these mighty Pens will be playing Golf with the Caps….Face it, folks, Staal is out for a least two weeks…. the Pens have the class, skill and talent to win without Staal–and they must find a way. Period. ..let’s get the next three wins for him and end this series!!

  5. Bobby O says:

    What kills me is Feds will probably be scratched but Poni-girl won’t. That’s right Bylsma, scratch the one player who always seems to step up in the playoffs in favor of a proven playoff under-performer who’s done exactly squat since he arrived. Wouldn’t want to make Shero’s decision to trade for him look even worse.

  6. Lisa says:

    Why can’t Blysma and company find a way to beat these “trapping style defenseive” teams??!!?? This is getting old plain and simple. It is about accountablility and responsibliity. I am so –so are many others–sick and tired about hearing “trapping style” and “getting to our game.” Blysma lacks the experience and toughness to get the job done as coach: why else has he not reached Malkin all season…..or does Geno simply not care? He looks like he would rather be golfing or fishing–that he would rather be anywhere but on the ice, helping his team win games and finishing checks and shooting pucks into the net or getting rebounds.
    Please Pens, prove everyone–including Rob Rossi wrong–him saying he predicts the Pens will have an early post-season exit–and get your act together, stop sugar-coating it when you do not play well and lose, challenge each other. Or the Washington Capitals will not be the only laughing stock of the NHL…..
    Find a way to win.

  7. pensfan says:

    Well, as strange as this seems I agree with you Rob. Come on folks off the ledge….first off if you thought we were going to sweep the Canadiens you were dreaming. Sweeps are very tough in today’s NHL. Secondly I like many predicted a 5 or 6 game series —— um that means you will lose one or two games. If I found fault with the Pens yesterday it was two things: 1) they tried to be too cute…too many east-west passes, trying to light it up and dazzle the home fans 2) Friday night they beat Halak with high shots, especially glove side…..yesterday they were going low. To paraphrase the Great late Mayor Daly – Shoot Early, Shoot High, Shoot Often. Pens will take one if not both games in Montreal.

  8. Sophia says:

    John, Lisa and Bobby O are all correct. Did you read Ron Cook’s article in the Post-Gazette?? Today he wrote “Malkin needs to come alive.” Before he wrote “Malkin is paid like Crosby he should play like him.” Both articles are spot on. Malkin looks like a fish out of water, he looks bored, he looks like he wants to be anywhere but helping his team mates win. Geno needs to make his own luck, quit dancy fancy with the puck and shoot it, create rebounds…something…eveyone needs to pitch in now. I agree with Lisa, I am too sick and tired of hearing “we need to get to our game…” They have been saying that BS for months!! How can a team–the Pens–play so well in game 1 and not in game 2? The defense was sleeping, no one was back checking, Sid had one shot?!?–but we all saw him smash his stick in frustration on national TV. That was a baby-act. Crosby–or someone else in that locker room–needs to lead this entire team to step up and step up now, step up big, or we will be down 2to1 and like Bobby O stated, “they will still be all smiles and no panic.” They are only fooling themselves. Like Lisa wrote, “please prove us all wrong, and win.”

  9. Mike Kuhn says:


    That trapping defense it what teams do when they don’t have people that can score goals. Montreal actually gave up more goals than it scored this season.

    I felt confident in the Pens until Staal got injured. People don’t realize just what he means to the penalty kill. Sure Sid and Geno get the goals that make headlines, but Jordan is out there preventing what the other team might be getting.

  10. concernedpensfan says:

    The reaction to Crosby and the fact that anyone would suggest the slightest criticism of his game is sad. NBC and CBC both did some recaps of Sid’s play during game 2. He was tripped, slashed, highsticked, slewfooted, hooked, held, (and in one scene, Gill just got him in a headlock, wrestled his helmet off and mugged him) and no whistles/penalties.

    He played hard…and was assaulted more than I have ever seen in a hockey game (an more than many CBC/bloggers I read apparently). Even the CBC folks who started out by bashing him begin to mention the excessive no calls.

    It was also interesting that I saw not a single mention of the lack of calls in any of the Pittsburgh papers. Compare to Detroit media who were up in arms over the officiating choices going on in their wings/san jose series.

    Also amazing is the apparent eagerness to pounce on Crosby for the slightest infraction. I have read a lot of articles about how bland he is/lack of emotion etc…but let him show the slightest emotion and suddenly articles are springing up bouncing from “childish behavior” to “breakdown” to “fury.” The man showed some frustration. I have seen numerous players do that and more. In fact, i have seen worse frustration expressed by Fleury, Martin Brodeur, Zack Parise in the past 40 days, and they are “shaking it off” “firing their team up” or “being a heart and soul kind of player.” The bigger question is why won’t the media allow Sid to be human?

    Sid carried the team during the regular season, skating more minutes than he should (some games 22-24 minutes). He has played out of his mind this post season, and has continued to skate way more minutes than any other player…last game close to 25. Contrast this to the 17-19 minutes most coaches are playing their bread and butter players. He has got to be tired. He has played a lot of hockey. The real question is how much more does he have to give before the tank is empty.

  11. harp says:

    I agree Fed’s and Poni have been horrible so far. I say put Tangradi on Malkins wing and Dupey on the other and see how that goes.

    I just hope Shero is smart enough [and I know he is] to not offer a contract to Fed’s and Poni and take that money and extend Gonchar’s contract.

    I would not even be shocked to see Dan put in Johnson or one of their young and very fast skaters as it seems in order to beat the trap you must have players that can skate past the checking and get in deep.

  12. Sandra says:

    Bobby O, thank you for saying something that’s been on my mind since the day we got Ponikarovsky. I’m so tired of hearing what a big body he is in front of the net and everything else being spouted to make us think he was the answer to the puzzle. So far all I’ve seen him do is waffle shots and act like he’s afraid to hit. Yet Fedotenko gets scratched, and he’s the guy who has been playing in whatever capacity Coach has asked him to play all season. Sorry, makes NO sense to me.

    As for Geno, I have no solutions. He’s been playing with every winger and center we have, so the ouytcry that it was his wingers who were to blame earlier in the season is, as I see it, totally unfounded. HE is the reason some of our wingers have done poorly, he’s basically left them all out to hang and he dipsy-doodles around and loses the puck. Can we say turn-overs??? Yet he’s one of the sacred cows that won’t get corrected in any way. If I’m feeling srustrated just watching him, I wonder how his teammates feel, when they are doing everything they can to win?

    And in response to concernedpensfan–Thank God Sid has been able to step up the way he has this season but I agree, how much more does he have to give? What happens to us if he gets injured?

    By the way, I’m not sounding any alarms here, I’m just voicing a few frustrations. I definitely believe in this team.

  13. Paul M says:

    Crosby is a crybaby and he and the Pens get every break the league can give. They had many, many games this season where they had the prior night off and teams played the night before and traveled to play Pittsburgh. They beat Ottawa in 6 and Montreal went 7, yet the Penguins had five days off and Montreal one. Crosby constantly slashes and hooks and is never called. The NHL has made him their poster boy and he’s not going to be sitting in the box.To say he was assaulted more than ever seen in a hockey game is idiotic. The new NHL has allowed Crosby to thrive. Watch a tape of the 1991-92 playoffs when guys were draped all over Lemieux, Jagr and everybody else. Just saw that HBO is doing a special on the old Broad Street Bullies. As much as I hated them then, I would gladly pay the price of admission to see how they would have dealt with Crosby in their era. Somehow I don’t think that the presence of Matt Cooke would have been a factor. Speaking of Matt Cooke, he felt there was something suspicious about both he and Staal both getting cut on the foot. Yeah, Montreal is going ninja. I guess there’s nothing suspicious about the same player injuring a number of players with illegal and cheap head shots. I only hope that the team coming out of the West can shut these whiners up.

  14. BruinsFan says:

    Pick it up Pens! Pens vs Bruins is as entertaining as hockey gets in my opinion!

  15. Barrett says:

    LOL…now I see who’s panicking LOL.

    You’ve got to be kidding people. If you thought this team was going to go 16-0 in the playoffs, then you need a serious reality check. This is not the ’92 Pens. Be realistic for crying out loud. Can you wait until they have at least lost 3 games in the series (which I doubt is even going to happen) before you “freak out”. They’re going to lose a game here and there… say that to yourself 50 times over and let it sink in (you’ll feel a lot better) lol.

    And you all need to get off of 71’s and especially 87’s back….the former played much better against Ottawa than he did the entire season (and he’ll warm up to this series when the time is right) and the latter always plays great so I have no idea how you could conceivably think of being critical of him (you would have to be either the most spoiled, uneducated [about hockey], or completely out-of-touch fan to say one bad thing about Syd).

    What everyone needs to remember is that these guys (meaning pretty close to the entire team) have played serious hockey for 28 out of the last 32 months (reaching the finals the last couple of years)….which if you really stop and think about it is very difficult to do both mentally and physically. These boys are tired. So they’re going to have to pace themselves through this playoffs, and that means they are going to save their energy for the games in each series that they know really count.

    They will get at least a split in Montreal and hopefully that will calm all of you (including the writer) down lol.

  16. habsrule says:

    Pens will lose this series because officials will give the benefit of the doubt to the Habs. Why? Because this is Montreal. The fans in our city will show the rest of the hockey world why we are the loudest. The other advantage is the intelligence factor. Smartest coaching in the league as well. And finally we are the BEST city in the world. We have the best SPORTS fan in the world and anyone who disputes that is wrong. GO HABS GO!!!

  17. john says:

    paul m.

    which games are you watching? i dont see sid hook or slash anybody and if he did the refs would call it. also how is it the penguins fault that they dispatched of their team quicker than montreal did its not their fault its how the schedule played out, also on the matt cooke subject how many suspicious checks are u talking about…the savard hit thats it….if you actually watched the games you would have seen the markov hit was as clean as they come it was a solid check, just because your a flyers fan and are sick and tired of the pens simply because your team will never be as good as them dont go making stuff up

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