Nobody expected the ledge to come this quickly, but here it is. The Pittsburgh Penguins had the fourth-best record in the National Hockey League this season, sported perhaps the two best players in the game, and were the betting favourites to win the Stanley Cup. What could be better?
And now they are down 2-0 to the Philadelphia Flyers and heading back to Philadelphia after two games in which they watched an early lead slip away, in pieces or in bursts. They haven’t just lost; they have been beaten. And much like the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks, two games into the post-season it has become a question of identity and trust, and whether the Penguins can hold onto either one.
“I mean, I think if you really watched the game closely it’s not like they’re carrying the play and all of a sudden it’s five shifts that they’re wearing us down and then they’re putting one in,” said Sidney Crosby, who had a goal and an assist in each of the first two games.