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Thursday, September 5, 2013
Can Penguins get over playoff loss to B's?

By Pierre LeBrun and Scott Burnside

NEWARK, N.J. -- It hurt so much that Sidney Crosby couldn’t bear to watch the Stanley Cup finals until the very last game.

The four-game sweep at the hands of the Boston Bruins ranks right up there among the lowest points in Crosby’s career.

"It stung,” the Pittsburgh Penguins captain told ESPN.com Thursday in an interview during the NHL’s Player Tour event.

"It was one of those ones that definitely took a while to wear off. Looking back, probably right until Chicago won, it was pretty tough to go a day without it crossing your mind when you’re seeing the finals going on. I didn’t watch a game until Game 6. I tried not to think about it too much, but it did pass through my mind. I think until I started working out and started to get ready for this year, it was tough to turn the page there."

Former playoff MVP and scoring champion Evgeni Malkin echoed Crosby’s sentiment.

“I agree with Sid. It’s tougher loss for my career too. Four games and we score just two goals. I think we have best offensive line in NHL last year but we score just two goals. I don’t know if it’s bad luck or Boston played very well,” Malkin told ESPN.com.

“But I just try to not remember that again, just look forward, look positive and look new season.”

And that’s the interesting question with these Penguins. Can you just turn the page or do you have to confront the reasons why that series with Boston went so awfully bad?

The answer is likely a bit of both. You need to have the ability to learn from the harsh reality of that defeat while also being able to put it behind you as an athlete.

"Ultimately in the playoffs, we didn’t get those big plays against Boston and they did a better job of that,” Crosby said. "I look at myself in the mirror for that, having those opportunities and having [Tuukka] Rask make those big saves, you want those chances back and you want to put them in. But you have to make sure you learn from it."

After a great deal of introspection, Penguins GM Ray Shero decided to not make any drastic changes to the team, keeping Dan Bylsma as head coach and resisting reactionary roster moves other than bringing back Rob Scuderi, who was a part of the Penguins team that won the Stanley Cup in 2009.

Shero’s decision to keep the band together resonated in the Penguins’ room.

"I think it’s good," Crosby said. "Everyone knows what is expected of them in that room. Knowing that our GM has the confidence in everyone there, we all have confidence in one another, but we have to learn from last year. Adding Rob Scuderi, a guy that was a big part of our team in 2009, that may not be looked on by some as a huge free-agent signing but that was a big move for us. He’s a heck of a defenseman and we’re happy to have him back."

Like Crosby, Malkin was pleased Shero didn’t take the ax to the roster.

“Oh, I love that. I like [that] Ray sign [Kris] Letang, Scuderi because we won together one Cup,” he said.

And Malkin predicted another one is on the way.

“We know [we] have great chance to win one again,” he said.

We’ll know next spring if keeping the band together was the correct call. It was for Chicago GM Stan Bowman a year ago when he resisted big changes following a disappointing first-round loss to Phoenix -- the team’s second straight first-round exit. Bowman believed in his core and ignored outside pressure to retool to a great degree. He was bang on as it turns out.

Now the Penguins hope their decision to be patient also pays dividends.