The NHL season is a roller coaster ride. Teams experience the emotional highs of success and lows of failures. And sometimes those ebbs and flows come in bunches.
The Pens won four straight games from Dec. 17 to 27. Unfortunately, the team is currently in the midst of a four-game losing streak.
While the Pens will never accept losing, they’re also a veteran group that understands that losing streaks are unavoidable over the stretch of an 82-games season.
“We have a good leadership group in this room, has been through it, knows what it looks like and feels like,” forward Pascal Dupuis
said. “It’s a long season. We’re not panicking in here, but we have to play some good hockey.”
The reason the Pens have been able to hold their heads high during the current stretch is that they are playing good hockey, but just haven’t gotten the breaks needed to get wins.
“I think that we’ve been outplaying opponents for the majority of the game, then we have 2-3 breakdowns that have cost us,” defenseman Ben Lovejoy
said. “Hockey is a game where we’re not expecting to be perfect on every play, but you need to bring it every shift.”
“If you look at the last two games in particular, those are periods of hockey and the way we need to play, and game we need to play to have success,” head coach Dan Bylsma said. “We can have success that way. We limited the New York Rangers in the first period to very little. (Against New Jersey) it was almost nothing, no scoring chances against in the first.”
But Bylsma stressed that the players just needs to respond better to some of the adversity they’re experiencing when a bad bounce goes against the team.
“I really think it’s more our reaction in the game to some of those circumstances,” he said. “We need to be able to react better, play better, stay focused and keep playing our game regardless of the situation, regardless of whether we give up a faceoff goal to the Rangers in the last minute after we played really well. That focus is something we’ve looked at and talked about.
|Dan Bylsma spoke to the media after practice about how players will step in to fill the voids left by injured players. |
“We have to be real focused on playing our game and being able to withstand that bounce or call and get right back to our game and have those 60 minutes of hockey we’ve shown we’re able to play.”
One thing you won’t hear from the team is an excuse for losing. Although there are plenty around, particularly on the injury front considering they’ve suffered 210 man-games lost this season with key components missing like Sidney Crosby
, Kris Letang
and now losing Jordan Staal
and James Neal
for a few weeks.
“Obviously we’re missing some high-end talent, but this isn’t the first time that we’ve had to battle that,” Lovejoy said. “We know how to win without everybody in the locker room, without everybody perfectly healthy. We have to get back there starting Tuesday night.”
The team needs to stay patient and not get frustrated when breaks go against them. After all, as long as they’re playing the right way, they’ll win more games than they’ll lose and build good habits.
“We just have to make sure we get back to systems,” forward Chris Kunitz
said. “If we play the systems the right way and do what makes us successful, then it gives a good feeling that you’re working towards the right way.
“We believe in those systems and I think if we do that, we’re going to be a successful team. Coach always says if we play the right way, he doesn’t care about the score. But we still have to limit those turnovers, limit the opportunities for them to score goals. When we have our chances, we have to capitalize on them.”