Pittsburgh was one of the hottest team’s in the NHL to start this season. The Penguins ran off to a 12-4-3 start, which tied the second-best start in franchise history.
Since then however, Pittsburgh is mired in the midst of a slump and can’t seem to snap out of it. The Penguins have lost 10 of their last 14 games and haven’t won consecutive games winning six in a row at the start of November.
“We’ve kind of been dragging on the bottom there,” defenseman Brooks Orpik
said. “It’s not like you hit it and come up there right away. But we’ve hit it and kind of stalled here for a while now.”
Pittsburgh lost its fourth straight game and fifth consecutive home game to the Florida Panthers, 6-1, on Saturday afternoon. With Buffalo’s 4-2 win over Boston - snapping the Bruins’ 10-game winning streak - the Sabres jumped ahead of Pittsburgh for the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference standings.
“Time is a little precious here,” Orpik said. “You look at the standings and every game we lose, we’re falling down.”
“We all know we got to get out of this together as a team,” goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury
said. “Right now it’s a really tough time and we’re just going to get back on the ice now, work hard, play the same way and try to get ourselves out of that slump.”
The Penguins have answered adversity in past seasons. Even when the team hit slumps, it managed to battle its way out of it. The Penguins will once again have to fight through this stretch and try to string some wins together.
“It’s a lot of the same guys from last year,” Orpik said. “It’s no secret why we had success last year and I think now it’s just a mentality. It’s a grinder and that’s where guys have to be mentally tough and work a little bit harder and grind through it.”
“We were ready to play a lot of those games,” head coach Michel Therrien said. “When we played against Montreal (Dec. 27) here, I thought we were the best team so we are going to keep fighting and we’re going to find a way to win.”
For the Penguins, the answers are in the locker room. The players are committed to coming together and doing the little things that could end up being the difference between winning and losing.
“It’s times like this that you have to get in the weight room a little extra,” Orpik said. “You have to do a couple of extra things - maybe grab a guy after practice. Maybe when you’re doing those things, you’re doing an extra set in the weight room, you’re doing something after practice - maybe you don’t at the time think that it’s what’s winning or losing games but I think it all adds up. You can’t afford to cut corners now.”
“We’ve got to help each other, that’s the bottom line,” forward Sidney Crosby
said. “When things are tough no one’s going to get you out of it but the guys in this room, so that’s the way things work. You have to dig yourselves out of it.”