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Pittsburgh columnist: Penguins’ narcissism, arrogance led to Game 2 defeat

Apr 20, 2014, 9:58 AM EDT

Marc-Andre Fleury, Matt Calvert AP

The Columbus Blue Jackets deserve a lot of credit for battling back from a 3-1 deficit against the Pittsburgh Penguins to earn their franchise’s first playoff win. That being said, did Pittsburgh’s overconfidence and desire to add to an already comfortable lead contribute to the team’s downfall?

That was the verdict of Pittsburgh Tribune-Review columnist Joe Starkey. Or as he put it:

They never learn.

Every time the Penguins start to feel good about themselves, it seems they want to feel better. Good isn’t good enough. They are hockey’s great narcissists — hopelessly addicted to their own wondrous skill.

One example of what Starkey is referring to was Pittsburgh’s decision to put out four forwards during a Columbus penalty midway through the second period. The Blue Jackets scored nine shorthanded goals in the regular season and had already added another to that list in Game 1 of this series.

So even down a man, the Blue Jackets are a threat to score, and they did, narrowing the Penguins’ lead to just one goal:

“The shorthanded goal for us was, I thought, the difference maker in the game,” Blue Jackets coach Todd RIchards told the Columbus Dispatch’ Aaron Portzline. “It gave hope to our guys.”

It was also the byproduct of “sheer Penguins arrogance,” according to Starkey.

Columbus went on to earn a 4-3 double-overtime victory. Pittsburgh has now allowed at least three goals in 15 of its last 23 playoff contests, dating back to 2012.

  1. erbaker67 - Apr 20, 2014 at 10:11 AM

    I agree. The Penguins Power Play is lethal when they key it simple. Too many times Crosby, Malkin, etc are trying to make it look so incredibly pretty that it’s ridiculous. They want to pass thru three sticks. I love a nice pass but if you look at the Goals the Pens scored they have a man in front of the net and create chances off that (see Niskanens goal, Gibbons first goal, and game 1 Niskanens, and Bennett) then they shy away from the simple part of the game. Niskanen needs to be on the left point and left half wall to utilize the one timer. Have Geno play on the right half wall with Kunitz in front, Crosby in the corners. Use the guys to the best of their abilities.

    Doesn’t help Letang is making too many turnovers, Scuderi looks slow. Orpik and Martin haven’t been bad but man one of the strong points has been our D depth but our D look terrible. The best defense is to play in the offensive zone and the Penguins breakout has just been god awful. Not taking any credit away from the CBJ as they played a great game and I am sure the CBJ forecheck is leading to some of the Penguins turnovers but some of them are just bad decisions.

    Should be an interesting rest of series.

    • erbaker67 - Apr 20, 2014 at 10:11 AM


    • glennb6 - Apr 20, 2014 at 9:27 PM

      Your comments are about half right. Letang is over-rated and should have never been given that long deal last year. Scuderi is steady and what we should expect from a strong blue line D. Martin has been absolutely terrible. At least Orpik will occasionally hit somebody. Also, thank goodness for Niskanen.

      The biggest thing we lack is a coach that will instill some discipline. And he is a very selfish coach. He will not bend on his system, which only worked one season because other teams were not prepared for it. It works well in the regular season, but adjustments are needed in the playoffs.

  2. elmerbrownelmerbrown - Apr 20, 2014 at 10:26 AM

    First off Jeff Jimmerson singing the anthem dose not raise one goosebump , second the music at the CONSOL-lation center is left over from 1985,, and third is Letang on the ice for every goal by the opposing team ? Oh Iam sorry Piere Mcguire who has come up with another annoying Penguin slobber he refers too him now as CHRISTOPHER Letang !

    • imleftcoast - Apr 20, 2014 at 2:04 PM

      Are there no stats showing whether four forwards works on PP? I think it’s foolhardy during the season, but in the playoffs it’s crazy – there have already been a lot of rushes and breakaways by teams killing penalties – to do try with a lead is asking to lose momentum and the game. Terrible coaching move.

      Macklemore won us the Super Bowl. That’s all you need to know about stadium rock.

    • steeltuff - Apr 20, 2014 at 2:07 PM

      Notice too how he pronounces Brooks Orpik’s name as Orpeck.

  3. phillyphanatic77 - Apr 20, 2014 at 10:27 AM

    I think all Pens haters would agree they’re far and away the most arrogant, narcissistic organization in the league. Then again all of Pittsburgh (minus this columnist) seems to take the view that this is unsubstantiated sour grapes perpetrated by Crosby haters. I’ve seen the Pens play plenty of games like this, jump out to a big lead then let it slip away as they bask in their own reverence. This ending was totally predictable as the Blue Jackets were clearly outworking the Pens (as they do most teams).

    Also, what was Letang thinking with that hit?

    • chanceoffleury - Apr 20, 2014 at 11:46 AM

      “far and away” is probably an overstatement, but they are definitely high on their own hype. As are many other teams. Looking at many of the most-popular teams leads me to notice the level of arrogance most of them have. The NHL created that, though. Pittsburgh, Philly, Vancouver, Chicago, Boston, Toronto, Montreal. Go ahead and take your pick. The level of entitlement within any of those organizations can be embarrassing as a fan and eye-rolling as an outsider at times. Sometimes its the players, other times its upper management or coaches, sometimes fans. Like I said, the Pens are very much in this category, but to insinuate they are by any means the only ones is a bit much. Especially from a fan of an organization who easily has dirty hands in the argument as it is.

      • phillyphanatic77 - Apr 20, 2014 at 3:24 PM

        I’m obviously substantially biased however its far too often that the Pens start believing their own hype when they begin to play well. And then when the opposing team pushes back it looks like they become too shocked to continue. Being a Flyers fan I hate them no matter the circumstances but they really do appear as if they think no team is on their level or that they’re too talented to lose. And I guess it could be argued that they are (can’t argue with Malkin, Crosby, Neal, Kunitz, Letang, etc etc), but like this columnist says their belief in their own skill level tends to blind them to their flaws. And they definitely have flaws.

        I’m not gonna lie and say the Flyers aren’t cocky sometimes, but I really believe no organization is on the Penguins level when it comes to that type of attitude. And I think there are ppl outside of Philly who would feel that way too.

      • kaptaanamerica - Apr 20, 2014 at 6:53 PM

        Agreed. You can put Toronto media in there too as bunch of arrogant blow hard.

    • golferpinehurst - Apr 20, 2014 at 1:04 PM

      Sid is no captain – he has no heart – no leadership – does not lead by example as he lets his teammates do all the penalty kill work and more importantly he is a crybaby!

    • hockey412 - Apr 21, 2014 at 8:37 AM

      I think the Pens need to control themselves, but this idea that they are all just hung on themselves is ridiculous. Letang…maybe – seems fairly arrogant, but I don’t know him. Giroux seems completely stuck on his own hype to me, as do the rest of the “we’re not tough but we think we are so we act it” broad street kids….yes, you think they are…no, it’s got EVERYTHING to do with the fact that you are one of the biggest homers on here, and a Philly fan. You seriously, to the point of delusion, believe your Flyers can do no wrong, and the Pens can do no right.

      The Pens didn’t sit by in their own reverence. Putting 4 forwards on a power play in a 2-0 game isn’t new, they do it all the time. Trying to make it 3-0 isn’t egotistical. It’s trying to take advantage of a power play against a very good team. Give Columbus some credit here, the Pens gave the puck away too much but didn’t solely beat themselves.

      The Bruins are the most arrogant, the Flyers are the dirtiest. It’s gospel. You don’t like the Pens because they don’t fit the mold you want them to – and you had to sit by and watch them lift a cup.

      • phillyphanatic77 - Apr 21, 2014 at 6:21 PM

        I’ve made zero attempt to cover up my Flyers bias, in fact I stated it several times in my two prior comments; doesn’t change the fact that the majority of NHL fans would agree with this PITTSBURGH columnist (and myself). Living in Pa and being a Flyers fan I see a lot of Penguins games, and this kind of collapse is not new. It has nothing to do with me wanting them to fit any mold or formula for success. And how is saying that the Blue Jackets completely outworked them not giving Columbus credit? Pittsburgh has all the talent in the world and they tend to play like they realize that, which sometimes leads to these outcomes. That is my main point. I don’t think it’s out of line or ridiculous at all. Columbus is dangerous short-handed and the Pens seemed to ignore that fact. And like I said I make no attempt to cover my Philly slant. I preface almost every Pittsburgh comment with the fact that they’re my least favorite team. I don’t claim to be an expert but I have played and watched the game almost my entire life.

        As for the Flyers, any Philadelphia fan who denies the fact that the organization often attempts to live up to the “Bully” nickname of the 70s is delusional. We’ve had the same owner and recycled general managers/players/coaches as much or more than any organization. But it’s also a misconception that this team is built to play as goons. There’s plenty of skill there, but if you think they’re not at all tough then you’re just showing your bias. People in Pittsburgh like call us the dirtiest organization in the league but I think it’s been shown in many head to head matchups that both clubs cross the line. In fact, in their last playoff matchup the Eastern Pa team was clearly not the aggressor.

      • hockey412 - Apr 22, 2014 at 8:31 AM

        The Flyers were the most penalized team for a reason – these weren’t ‘tough guy’ penalties, many of them were undisciplined and dirty. That’s not a biased comment, or maybe it is one, that is backed by fact.

        Let’s also put this ‘collapse’ you are talking about into perspective. They collapsed against a very good Bruins team last year in the ECF. Is that REALLY a collapse? Or just a depressing end to a good season? Where were the Flyers, by the way? THAT is a collapse. The Pens are ‘collapsing’ now, by your standards then? There are one or two players that actually do seem kind of arrogant out there, Letang being one – but no more arrogant that your team. In your first post, you said that ‘most pens haters would agree’…in this one, you say ‘most NHL fans would agree’ and this one is wrong. I’d love to see a pole, actually – but no, you don’t just get to throw generalizations out there and think that you speak for the entirety of every NHL fan base out there, especially rooting for a club that isn’t all that well respected either.

      • phillyphanatic77 - Apr 22, 2014 at 10:27 AM

        Look we’re not gonna agree here. No matter what you or I say you’re gonna keep supporting the Pens, I’m gonna rip em. You’re gonna rip the Flyers, I’ll support em. It’s the nature of the rivalry. Good luck against Columbus, I wanna see the Pens in round 2.

      • hockey412 - Apr 22, 2014 at 10:28 AM

        Agreed (except for wanting to see the Flyers in round 2 – the Pens need an attitude adjustment before they’d be able to win)!

    • sanclementeacupuncture - Apr 21, 2014 at 12:12 PM

      People do not hate Crosby. We think it is unfair for a girl to play in the NHL.

  4. 3cupsanda6pack - Apr 20, 2014 at 10:34 AM

    Funny. A flyers fan talking about arrogance. Lol

    • broadstreetbeatdown - Apr 20, 2014 at 10:44 AM

      Everyone around the league not named Pierre Mcguire knows your team is a bunch of self entitled prima-donnas.

    • elmerbrownelmerbrown - Apr 20, 2014 at 10:46 AM

      Were not the arrogant ones,,,,, remember we have not won a cup since 1975 !!!!!!!!

    • elmerbrownelmerbrown - Apr 20, 2014 at 10:47 AM

      Oh and buy the way your handle is 3cups and a 40 of iron city stupid yinzer !

      • idigrhinos - Apr 20, 2014 at 6:46 PM

        ya might not want to refer to someone as a “stupid” yinzer…if you can’t use the right form of “by”. it makes you look…well, you know.

        on that note…go pens.

  5. whiskytango333 - Apr 20, 2014 at 10:49 AM

    Hard to disagree with Starkey. I’d also add “entitled”, “lazy”, “undisciplined” as well. And this is the modus operandi for Dan Bylsma coached team when it counts (see Sochi If you want a non-penguins example).

    #firebylsma #tradeletang

  6. pitpenguinsrulez - Apr 20, 2014 at 10:50 AM

    Maybe a 5th straight flameout might actually send a message to this team.

    • elmerbrownelmerbrown - Apr 20, 2014 at 10:57 AM

      Stevie Wonder could see that Bylsma has a job because of what I like to call 1 CUP CRED and the years are now being wasted should have had not 1,, not 2,, but 3 by now ! The greatest roster ever assembled is not the greatest underachievers in all time ! HORRIBLE LABEL to have !

  7. joey4id - Apr 20, 2014 at 10:54 AM

    Crosby has been making some bad plays in at least the last 10 games. Behind the back blind passes that get cut off, and long passes that don’t reach the intended target. He’s got to improve that part of his game.

    • Hockeyfan - Apr 20, 2014 at 2:44 PM

      Agree. Crosby has under performed despite points. He has made too many turnovers. He has not played with any gusto in quite a few games and even then, only briefly. Where’s the magic? Look, you can’t help but be a fan of his sheer talent but where’s the all out effort like you see with the likes of Toews and dare I say Giroux?

      • Hockeyfan - Apr 20, 2014 at 3:33 PM

        Never really know what goes on behind the bench, in the locker room and in closed door meetings but you have to think by the lack of performance all around that there is something really wrong when you have all that talent and can’t bring it together.

        And Crosby? Is he hurt? Tired? Making too many errors which speaks to a lack of focus.
        Someone on the team needs to step up. Or is this a coaching problem as others have suggested.

      • joey4id - Apr 20, 2014 at 5:35 PM

        hockeyfan knows hockey.

        Thumbs up!

  8. benzoids - Apr 20, 2014 at 11:30 AM

    Sid is carving himself a Peytonesque legacy. Inexcusable.

  9. lj312chicago - Apr 20, 2014 at 11:32 AM

    Chris Kunitz team Illinois national aaa champions defeated Scott Gomez and team Alaska…..been watchen Kunitz for like 15 plus years

  10. jimeejohnson - Apr 20, 2014 at 12:02 PM

    Narcissism will get you every time.

  11. oldfatbaldguy - Apr 20, 2014 at 12:17 PM

    The Blue Jackets do that. They never stop working and make more talented teams look lazy. Red Wings fans are used to it.

  12. evgenishrek - Apr 20, 2014 at 12:21 PM

    We have best fans in world. Except for when we sucked and had worst attendance in league. Then after we get good players like me and Cindy, fans like us again and back on wagon. No moving to Kansas City!! We stay in beautiful city. Where we have is stillers futbol, iron city beer, dating siblings, optional hygiene, irrelevant baseball team for the past 25years. Pittsburgh so lonely reminds me of my face.

  13. capsrockva - Apr 20, 2014 at 1:05 PM

    As pens hater and a caps fan. it is a good when Pit loses and I’ve got Cbl in my bracket in 7. Having said that I’ve also got TB and Chicago and their both disappointing me. Not mention I’ve also got PHl and their not helping either

  14. phillyphannnn83 - Apr 20, 2014 at 3:17 PM

    This is great.

  15. muckleflugga - Apr 20, 2014 at 3:20 PM

    it’s more about bloated conceit than narcissism … as much with players as with coaching and management … magic mirror on the wall

    trying to build a team around two players instead of building a team around a collective winning model … shero and bylsma have tinkered and played with and hacked penguins into a parody of better teams, but unsuccessfully

    columbus knows it and is attacking penguins where the glue is still drying

    a dissonance is at play, but it’s less about mirrors and more about chicken-liver diving play … crosby, kunitz, malkin and niskanen are embarrassing themselves and the game itself … they’re clearly playing to game crews looking to call penalties rather than officiate a flowing game

    the others are nearly as bad but go near crosby, kunitz, malkin and niskanen, they go down, looking to get a juiced power play on the ice … if mario can arrange to bring last night’s game crew to every game, penguins might prevail, but they’ll attract the kind of respect canucks did in 2011

    penguins should step out of their whining character and start playing tougher hockey …

    short of those 2011 canucks, i’ve never seen as talented a team go down so easily on nominal contact … rather than trying to pull penalties they should be battling and grinding, winning through to complete offensive thrusts five on five … wearing the opponent down

    aside from not realizing opportunity, players are of two minds … flip flop or fly … worse still, penguins already fragile sense of power and mystique has fallen away as its power play splutters … liberties are being taken taken at will by jackets without fear of consequence

    seeing crosby getting slapped around and seeing orpik getting wantonly hammered is the best example … orpik’s helmet askew, eyes crossed, reaching beseechingly toward a referee for the call … catching instead of delivering

    no respect

  16. Hockeyfan - Apr 20, 2014 at 3:42 PM

    Ridiculous. Not really even worth a reply. You are so full of yourself.

  17. wishingtonredslur - Apr 20, 2014 at 5:20 PM

    Narcissists would never wear a jersey that ugly. UGLY.

  18. kastout11 - Apr 21, 2014 at 9:41 AM

    I just don’t think the Penguins are that good. Yes, Crosby is clearly the best player in the world, but look at the penguins. Their goaltending is suspect, their defense is average, at best, and they only have 2 lines that can score. I stated in an earlie post that Columbus is not a team to sleep on. They play as hard as any team in the league and they never quit. They have outplayed the Pens so far in this series, and the the exception of one bad period in game 2, they could easily be up 2-0. I watched the Blue Jackets dominate the Flyers a few times this season, and I can certainly say that when the Flyers beat the Rangers in the first round, I would rather play Pittsburgh in the second round instead of Columbus.

  19. cleesmith2 - Apr 21, 2014 at 12:43 PM

    The Penguins have the better players. The Blue Jackets have the better TEAM.

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