Penguins general manager Ray Shero was looking for answers after his team lost all four games of the Eastern Conference Final to the Boston Bruins.
“I couldn’t imagine, or anyone can imagine, our team being shutdown the way it was offensively,” said Shero about the NHL’s No. 1 offense scoring only two goals in four contests against Boston. “Credit to the Boston Bruins and their goaltender.”
But Shero did ask the questions, seeking the input of the coaches and players.
“I’ve talked to the coaches and, more importantly, players about adjustments, what did they see, what did they feel,” Shero said. “They’re the ones who have to have believe in what they’re doing.
“I asked (the players) not only about their game, or what happened or the system. I’m asking about the coach and what they think. I don’t want to hear what I want to hear, especially guys that played for different coaches and came from different organizations. ‘What do you see?’”
Maybe the most baffling query is regarding Game 2 in Pittsburgh. The Penguins played one of the worst home playoff game in team history as the Bruins coasted to a 6-1 victory – and the game wasn’t even that close.
It was in that contest that the Penguins lost the series, and there seems to be no explanation as to why.
“We all see and there is no denying we lost that series in Game 2,” he said. “It got away from us. I can’t explain Game 2.
“I don’t have an answer at this point as to what happened. A couple players said they’ve never felt that bad in a game. Why is that? It’s hard to get 19 players going at the same time, but we had 18 guys that were the same, they were not good.”
Losing in the playoffs is always disappointing. But it was especially so for this Penguins team, getting so far and stacked with talent.
The Penguins became the odds favorite after emptying the pool with a mad splash prior to the NHL trading dead line. Pittsburgh acquired Dallas captain Brenden Morrow, Calgary Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla, San Jose physical defenseman Douglas Murray and Caroline versatile faceoff specialist Jussi Jokinen.
The Penguins were already one of the better teams entering the season. With the additions, they became an anointed team by many prognosticators.
“With those deals, it raised the expectation,” Shero said. “And with raised expectation there is greater disappointment when you lose. That’s where we are.”
Despite not reaching the team’s goal of winning the Stanley Cup, Shero did not want to completely ignore the team’s successes. After all, the disappointment felt by the team and fans comes from the team’s roster strength.
“I don’t want to take away the accomplishment that they did win two playoff series and get to the Final Four and build that excitement, which led to disappointment,” Shero said. “There were 26 teams that wanted to be where we were. But you have to build that excitement to be disappointed.”