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Poll: Let’s play the Penguins blame game

Apr 13, 2012, 10:58 PM EDT

letangtoughnightgetty Getty Images

A lot of bold statements and glum descriptions will flow from the Pittsburgh Penguins after a second gnawing defeat (this time 8-5) to the Philadelphia Flyers. While the stunned silence of the Consol Energy Center crowd speaks volumes, there will be quite the cacophony of criticisms in the next couple days.

Really, there are a lot of potential culprits, so I thought I’d turn to PHT readers for the ultimate answer on who’s most to blame for the Penguins entering Philly in a scary 2-0 hole.

  • Marc-Andre Fleury: For all the trouble Ilya Bryzgalov‘s had, here’s a selective stat that hurts: he hasn’t given up a lead yet. Fleury has given up plenty, but Game 2 was especially rough: he allowed seven goals on 30 shots as the Flyers made it look easy.
  • Kris Letang and the defense in general: Of course, Philly is carving up “MAF” because of some alarmingly lax defense from the Penguins. It’s not fair to blame Letang when it seems like the entire team is falling apart, yet as the leader of the defensive unit, he’s likely to be the face of such criticism.
  • Dan Bylsma: Of course, you could also make the argument that the 2011 Jack Adams winner is getting thoroughly out-coached. While Peter Laviolette looks like a genius by staying with Bryzgalov and taking some well-timed time outs (redundant?) one might argue that the Penguins are getting “sucked in” to the Flyers’ aggressive style. One really cannot argue that Pittsburgh is playing horribly with leads. Some of that falls at the coaches dress shoes – it’s up to you to decide how much.
  • Star scorers not named Sidney Crosby?: I’m placing this category under “patently ridiculous,” but I wouldn’t be surprised to see an argument made there. Evgeni Malkin and James Neal had two assist apiece but matching -4 ratings; Chris Kunitz scored twice but had a -5. That might be material for some blame.
  • Penguins GM Ray Shero?: Another ridiculous (but kind of funny in a “Try to make that point with a straight face” sort of way) idea, but some people will bristle at the fact that Jaromir Jagr scored the game-winner while Maxime Talbot made his presence felt with a goal and an assist. Some will, quite amusingly, say that the Penguins could have had one or both on their side.

OK, so that was sort of a fun little exercise in reckless finger-pointing, wasn’t it? Go ahead and choose the guiltiest party in the poll and comments – there’s a write-in candidate in case I missed a spot with all the broad strokes.

  1. tcclark - Apr 13, 2012 at 11:02 PM

    1 vote for: “They’re playing a better team”

    • polegojim - Apr 14, 2012 at 9:02 AM

      Exactly right.

      But… this is what you get when anointing Sid the kid with the C. Great player, ZERO leadership. He doesn’t have the maturity for it…ok, maybe ‘yet’.

      Playoffs are as much about leadership as they are about talent, especially when you’re NOT having an optimal year. Pens are lacking.

      • bloggersarenotjournalists - Apr 14, 2012 at 6:13 PM

        What do you say to such foolish ignorance?
        Sidney Crosby has helped lead Canada to junior Gold
        Sidney Crosby has lead his Junior to to the Memorial Cup
        Sidney Crosby has lead the Pens the the Stanley Cup finals
        not once
        But Twice.
        And has a Ring
        Sidney Crosby help lead Team Freakin’ CANADA to Olympic Gold, seemed to score an important goal if I remember.

        “Zero Leadership”
        2 games into a playoff series and you have people typing stuff this stupid I do not know what to say. Then you get 13 thumbs up?

        Other than Jagr there isn’t a single Philly player that has lead his team to anything ever in their lives.

        So ya, some of the most over reactionary completely clueless “I dont know ANYTHING about hockey except what’s happened the past 3 days” garbage I have even written here.

        -Red Wings fan

      • polegojim - Apr 14, 2012 at 11:54 PM

        Emotional, but only partly true.

        Never said he’s not a great player, but HUGE difference between being on those teams and playing well…. and being ‘The Leader’.

        Some guys are great players. Some are Leaders. He’s not a Leader. Period.

      • bloggersarenotjournalists - Apr 14, 2012 at 6:16 PM

        Sorry Im not done
        “Zero leadership….Playoffs are as much about leadership”

        Then how the hell did the Pens make 2 finals and win a Cup? Someone else was leading them?

        Yup
        You just started watching hockey 3 days ago

      • polegojim - Apr 15, 2012 at 12:01 AM

        Wipe your eyes and blow your nose, but yes, that’s exactly what I mean.

        Malkin lead the team in points in 07-08 and 08-09. He had as much leadership and anyone else.

        Crosby is like Sakic – great player, but not Leaders who their teams follow.

        Hey, it is what it is.

        Gonchar, Guerrin,

      • polegojim - Apr 15, 2012 at 12:07 AM

        PS – Great Sid impression, you did whine a lot like him though. ; )

      • bloggersarenotjournalists - Apr 15, 2012 at 1:22 AM

        Gretzky, Lemiuex, Messier, Yzerman, Sakic all were accused of “whining”. It’s what guys with the “C” on their chest have been doing since….well since forever, guess what, you see Toews doing it too.

        What do all these player have in common?

        Rings
        Good Captains are constantly in the refs ears

        Like I said, Welcome to the game of Hockey, hope you like it.
        See I’ve been around long enough that I had to listen to silly “never played hockey in my life types” same the same thing about the Greatest of all time when he played.

        And look, same types are saying the same thing.

        No No you’re right, “Zero Leadership” and a “Whiner” of course 95% everyone involved in hockey and understand the sport and what guys with the “C” on their chest does thinks you’re just another cute fan with a slight understanding of what’s going on.

        Im a Wings fan, I have no love for the Pens or Crosby, but I understand that what you said was foolish and completely wrong and bias.

      • polegojim - Apr 15, 2012 at 11:35 AM

        Now you’re being ridiculous to try and prove a point – those guys were NEVER known for whining.

        Sid should have a ‘W’ on his chest instead of a C and everyone knows it.

  2. xarnthal - Apr 13, 2012 at 11:02 PM

    I blame the awful Penguins fans. They spend too much time crying to the refs for Crosby.

  3. clamnewton - Apr 13, 2012 at 11:03 PM

    1. Lavy is taking Bylsma to the wood shed 2) Malkin has no heart. 3. Oh, and the Flyers are really good – let’s not forget that.

  4. jucam1 - Apr 13, 2012 at 11:03 PM

    I think the real problem is that the refs aren’t trying hard enough to coddle little Ms Sydney!…how dare they not make sure she wins at home!….
    Claude owns you…. You little girl!!!.. Knock knock!

  5. trbowman - Apr 13, 2012 at 11:05 PM

    Paul Martin

  6. tcclark - Apr 13, 2012 at 11:05 PM

    If the panthers go down 2-0 in the series I better see a Who’s to blame poll with Brian Campbell’s face on it. Why does it have to be that the Pens are doing something wrong?

    • rj2922 - Apr 14, 2012 at 2:03 AM

      Because no one made the panthers favorites to win the cup. Plus Panthers fans aren’t pompous jack azzes that think they are owed anything.

      • scottfmullin - Apr 14, 2012 at 2:22 AM

        We have to be the least pompous fans in the entire NHL. We’re still trying to wrap our heads around the notion of playoff hockey.

      • tcclark - Apr 14, 2012 at 8:31 AM

        I understand that, but can we at least get a poll choice that says “Nothing’s wrong with them. They’re just playing a better team.” I mean, that’s what’s happening with the Panthers

  7. icelovinbrotha215 - Apr 13, 2012 at 11:10 PM

    The Pens don’t play defense. Especially when Crobsy is in the lineup. It is no surprise that with a team like the Flyers who can light up the scoreboard, that the Pens look dismal at best. Letang is an easy target but the blame can go around.

    • mediatedviscera - Apr 13, 2012 at 11:30 PM

      they still beat them with out Sid during the season.

      • icelovinbrotha215 - Apr 13, 2012 at 11:34 PM

        I know they did. I’m just talking about in general. Their ‘defense’ is to keep the puck in opposition’s end of the ice. They played a more defensive game when Crosby was out. The Flyers just have their number and force the Pens out of their comfort zone.

  8. phillyaces - Apr 13, 2012 at 11:11 PM

    Flyers are just better. It’s ok to admit it

  9. icelovinbrotha215 - Apr 13, 2012 at 11:12 PM

    And let’s not forget that Crobsy took a dumb penalty and had a TO @ the blue line. Both resulting in Flyer goals.

    • mgp1219 - Apr 13, 2012 at 11:35 PM

      And Mcguire tried to blame the d-man on the point on the PP for the TO

      • icelovinbrotha215 - Apr 13, 2012 at 11:44 PM

        They (NBC) have to protect the ‘face of the NHL’ haha.

  10. bleed4philly - Apr 13, 2012 at 11:23 PM

    Flyers have depth, pens getting gassed.

  11. mercyflush - Apr 13, 2012 at 11:27 PM

    i picked Malkin… the 19 year old rookie has kept him in his back pocket. Yes, Malkin had 2 assists tonight, but both were on the powerplay. Not that that doesnt count but even strength Couturier has dominated him – if he scored 0 goals tonight he would still have been a star of the game.

    Crosby cant do it all himself. The pens cant win with Malkin getting smothered by a teenager.

    (on a side note – how good are the flyers gonna be the next half a dozen or so years?? G is 24, Voracek is 23, Schenn is 20, Couturier 19, Simmonds 24, Read 25, Wellwood 22 etc. Is there a better group of young players in the league?)

    • somekat - Apr 14, 2012 at 12:03 AM

      Plus JVR (22) and i think Rinaldo (21) is going to run into a solid player. They don’t get the hype as a young team as much, because they have guys like Timmonen, Bryz, Briere, Jagr etc, who have been around forever (Plus prongs when he was playin). Then guys like Coburn, Carle, Hartnell, and talbot that aren’t old, but have been in the league long enough that they are certainly vets.

      Outside of G, and possibly JVR, I don’t think they have another superstar in the bunch. But they do have bunch of very solid 2 ways players, with a few guys with a shot at being stars (Schenn, Couturier, and I think Simmonds can be a stud power foward, specifically). I think the only thing they need is a young stud defenseman, either via trade, or via FA if they decide Pronger is going to just spend the next few years on the injured list. Timmonen is getting up there, and if Prongs isnt playing, they don’t have another anchor defenseman. Besides that,this team is set up to be a contender fo the next 7-9 years.

      Unfortunately, in hockey, you can be a contender and get knocked out in the first round. Like is going to happen to one of these teams this year. I think that will become much more likely with the new alignment coming and our stacked division

  12. philly4lyfe - Apr 13, 2012 at 11:27 PM

    Giroux > Crosby

    • steelcityfranchise - Apr 14, 2012 at 1:06 AM

      relax on this…i love the pens and even more so, love hockey. i will give giroux props for what he brings because i can appreciate his skill and vision as a player. that being said, he is not on the level of crosby. that’s not to say some day he can’t be but he’s just not yet there

  13. mediatedviscera - Apr 13, 2012 at 11:28 PM

    oops.
    anointing the Penguins the favorites (Bettman and Vegas) better think twice…Blysmal who you gonna cover? who?
    amazing just amazing.

    Marketing is at fault. A bunch of kids keep beating a team of superstars. Philadelphia doesn’t seem to care who they are playing…they are just playing the game…it’s beautiful story, really…there is no blame…just The Game.

  14. malkinrulez - Apr 13, 2012 at 11:30 PM

    I thought u had to win 4 games to win the series? Malkin no heart? Conn smythe winner , held the cup! Go ahead , count the Pens out. Flyers have earned first 2 wins, but last time I checked takes 4 to advance.

    • mediatedviscera - Apr 13, 2012 at 11:31 PM

      “Held” (past tense) they were once this young too.

    • clamnewton - Apr 13, 2012 at 11:41 PM

      No heart may be a little harsh – but in this series, he’s not shown me anything. He was a huge, huge part of the Cup Run, but he seems frustrated and not willing to fight through it. And by no means do I think the series is over. Flyers kind of suck at home and the Pens can score for sure. Love the 2-0 lead though.

  15. biffnasty - Apr 13, 2012 at 11:33 PM

    It all Cindy Crosbys fault
    All his whining is not producing goals

    • steelcityfranchise - Apr 14, 2012 at 1:10 AM

      what “whining” has he or anyone else done this series? the first two games have been hard fought with the pens pressing early and the flyers not backing down. this whole whining thing is ridiculous and unnecessarily repetitive. make a valid argument to support you claim or earn something about hockey and state you point.

  16. schuckme - Apr 13, 2012 at 11:36 PM

    or how about the fact that the Flyers are just that damn good?! They refuse to back down constantly, every time the pens hit em the Flyers hit back twice as hard.. u could also blame the entire pens team for underrating the fact that the flyers are very rookie laden but those rookies are superstars in the making.. simply put, the Flyers are the better team and have the record to prove it..

  17. ml3939 - Apr 13, 2012 at 11:37 PM

    How can anyone blame Letang? That guy is a warrior. He played the majority of the game after enduring severe whiplash from Read’s monster hit.

    • freddyboombatz - Apr 14, 2012 at 6:23 AM

      And the Oscar for the Best actor goes to……..Letang!

  18. jkay1818 - Apr 13, 2012 at 11:38 PM

    Man-a flyers vs rangers matchup would be glorious.you know it’s bad when I hate everything Philly and still want the pens to lose. Can’t stomach that cocky, Whiney team and their fans who crowned them champs already. The worst part is after they lose this series, their fans still have to live in Pittsburgh…..gross

  19. mojosmagic - Apr 13, 2012 at 11:45 PM

    The problem the Pens have is no lead is safe when it comes to the Flyers who are now in their heads. Could be a 4 game sweep.

  20. lordstanley65 - Apr 13, 2012 at 11:48 PM

    Give Laviolette some credit,too guys. He knows what he has, and just how to use them. Masterful coaching thus far.

  21. dbick - Apr 13, 2012 at 11:56 PM

    The flyers lost twice to the Pens this season and one of them was meaningless on the last day of the season. Not sure why this is such a huge surprise to a lot of people, the Pens have done nothing all year to make anyone believe they can beat the flyers. Just like the flyers have done nothing all year to lead me to believe they can beat the rangers.

    • mercyflush - Apr 14, 2012 at 12:03 AM

      true dat. i’m hoping that the Devils beat the Panthers, so if the Flyers move on they avoid the Rangers next round…

      • epictron1 - Apr 14, 2012 at 9:04 AM

        I wouldn’t count out Ottawa or Washington beating the Rangers or Boston. Especially Washington, in my opinion.

  22. stakex - Apr 14, 2012 at 12:00 AM

    I hate Fluery and think hes the most over rated goalie in the NHL these days… but I felt bad for him out there tonight. A couple of the goals he allowed were really bad, but most of them he didn’t have a chance. The Pens defense just looked plain awful… again.

    And you know what else would help the Pens? If they weren’t so busy taking dives all night trying to draw penelties. I know they are a dive heavy team, but tonight was especially bad….. and hell, the refs actually called a diving penelty on them. If they were as focused on winning as they were on diving, then hell they might actually win a game here and there.

  23. jwaz8 - Apr 14, 2012 at 12:03 AM

    Blame Sean freakin couturier! The hat trick was his smallest contribution. Shutting down Malkin the diver was his biggest.

    Where are you geno Pringles!?

  24. jagrbomb18 - Apr 14, 2012 at 12:27 AM

    How about Grossmann turning into an animal

  25. johnguelff - Apr 14, 2012 at 12:27 AM

    KNOCK KNOCK…

    bye bye pens
    flyers see you in the finals

    -wings fan

  26. hazlydose - Apr 14, 2012 at 12:58 AM

    The entire team for a complete lack of defense. They are giving up way too many breakaways and odd man rushes.

    • steelcityfranchise - Apr 14, 2012 at 1:15 AM

      my men’s league D is better…utterly ridiculous! no one covers any offensive players in the slot and/or around the net. Martin and Michalek literally make me sick to my stomach. watch them play..they actually shy away from any contact. where’s Hal Gill and Scuderi when you need them?

  27. tackledummy1505 - Apr 14, 2012 at 1:52 AM

    Last time I checked, but Sidney Crosby was the Captain. Does the C not mean anything? Second off let’s not give the Flyers any credit for playing ” The never say die,” attitude they’ve been playing with the last 16 games. Lastly the Flyers are playing without a Captain, yet we’ve rallied around Bryz instead of trashing him like MAF. Yeah it’s time to blame everyone except Sidney Crosby and the flopping Penguins. Funny how the Flyers only get must call power plays, yet every time I see a Penguin flop it’s a penalty. It’s time to get off the Pens and see what they can really do without giving every chance in the world to them.

    • renberg19 - Apr 14, 2012 at 11:15 AM

      7 powerplays for the Floppers. 3 (!) for the Flyers. It is so one sided, it’s almost comical right now.

  28. eagles512 - Apr 14, 2012 at 2:09 AM

    Letangs dive was so bad I honestly think he should be suspended. There’s no room for that in the NHL.

  29. lrg51 - Apr 14, 2012 at 8:54 AM

    I think almost anyone outside of Philly expected the Pens to take the series. Not gonna happen now…

  30. garryjercia - Apr 14, 2012 at 9:39 AM

    How about a little less time working on the acting skills and a little more time working in the fundamentals. I counted 5 offsides in the 3rd period.
    Even as a flyers fan, I expected more out of team favored to win the cup.

  31. matthews4 - Apr 14, 2012 at 9:45 AM

    I have to partially blame Fluery, because he has no rebound control what so ever. The Jagr goal in particular was a shining example. Even leading into the playoffs he had some really bad nights. The Islanders game comes to mind. The Flyers are just better coached and have better depth. It’s hard to shut down 3 good lines, especially when you #1 d pair is overrated.

    • brump76 - Apr 14, 2012 at 9:51 AM

      The flower (what a sad name btw) is dried up…

  32. brump76 - Apr 14, 2012 at 9:48 AM

    I just heard that Letang and CRosbY are joinging the summer Olympics in London this year?!

    They are joining the Canadian Diving Team…
    (throw-your-head-back whiners!)

  33. dawglb - Apr 14, 2012 at 2:13 PM

    Someone brought up a really good point. The day the playoffs started, the Pens were the Stanley Cup favorites…… There is no motivation higher than that (for the Flyers). Thank you Vegas and NHL.com

  34. mclovinhockey - Apr 14, 2012 at 10:04 PM

    Philly showed Pitts flaws

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. C. Anderson (1660)
  2. B. Bishop (1596)
  3. M. Fleury (1532)
  4. D. Alfredsson (1485)
  5. J. Harding (1356)
  1. C. Price (1239)
  2. D. Setoguchi (1157)
  3. M. Staal (1156)
  4. A. Ekblad (1135)
  5. J. Giguere (1118)