If the Penguins blow a 3-1 series lead to the Rangers, it will mark three straight Game 7 losses since their Stanley Cup win in 2009 and the second time under head coach Dan Bylsma's tenure that the team will have coughed up a 3-1 lead (the other time was in 2011 against Tampa in the first round).
But Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby insisted that isn’t the mindset in the Penguins’ room.
“I don’t think we exactly look at it the way you just said it. I think we look at it [as] basically we didn’t help ourselves the last two games we played. I don’t think we look at the whole picture like that. I think we look at it responding and looking at this as an opportunity. We worked hard all year to get home ice in the playoffs and to be home,” Crosby said in a late-afternoon media briefing after an optional team skate on Monday.
“So I think to get to this point we’ve got to look at this as an opportunity and make the most of it.”
Crosby was one of two Penguins made available to the media on Monday. The other was often-times (of late) linemate Evgeni Malkin.
It’s rare to see the two of them in such a setting. So if you were looking for a signal as to the mindset of the Penguins, it is striking that the two Pittsburgh stars were much more loose than one might have anticipated given the fact the team is coming off two potential elimination games in which they’ve been outscored 8-2.
Malkin, notoriously media shy, was asked how he was doing as the media briefing began.
“Is [that] the question?” he said with a smile.
Several times questions were asked of both players and Crosby would grin and nod at Malkin as if to say, Go ahead, you handle this one.
And several times Malkin would grin back and shake his head.
"Me again," Crosby quipped as Malkin skirted answering a question about getting more traffic in front of New York Rangers netminder Henrik Lundqvist.
At one point a reporter’s cell phone went off.
"Nice song," Crosby noted.
The Penguins captain found a little humor in discussing whether he was turning to owner Mario Lemieux during what has at times been a difficult postseason as Crosby has scored just once in 12 games.
Lemieux was in the Penguins' locker room in New York after the Penguins' 3-1 loss in Game 6.
“If you’re talking specially last night ... we didn’t really talk about anything different than we would have, half the season we talk after the games when he’s down in the room,” Crosby said.
“I don’t think there was anything different there. But definitely he’s got a pretty good understanding of dealing with the pressure and things like that. I think if anyone understands, sometimes it’s nice just to not have to talk about it all, so I think he can appreciate that too.”
At one point, the two were asked about the nature of their relationship and the pressures they face at this time of year.
A silent moment.
“That’s a tough question for me,” Malkin said.
“I’ll take it. See this is, maybe a couple of years ago I would have made him answer it but I know now,” Crosby said with a grin.
Still Malkin did jump in and relate how Crosby was a help when Malkin came back from a disappointing turn at the Sochi Olympics in late February.
“Sid come to me and we start talk about my game, about life. We’re good friends and I’m excited to play with Sid,” Malkin said.
“I’m learning a lot. We know we can win tomorrow. And we do it.”
At the end of the question period, Malkin jumped up from his chair and strutted from the media room, the picture of satisfaction at a job well done.