Big decisions coming for Pens, Malkin

Updated: June 8, 2013, 1:59 PM ET
By Craig Custance

It seemed so much easier to diagnose a year ago. The Philadelphia Flyers were the archrival who threw the Pittsburgh Penguins off their game and got to goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. Discipline and goaltending -- those were easy problems to solve.

Or two years ago, when the Penguins pushed the Tampa Bay Lightning to seven games in the first round and did it without Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, who were both injured. Remove the two best players from any lineup and it's easy to excuse a first-round exit.

And 2010? Well, that Penguins team had tons of playoff mileage on it, coming off a Stanley Cup win and a trip to the Stanley Cup finals the year before that. And the Montreal Canadiens were a team of destiny, with a goaltender in Jaroslav Halak who was the story of the postseason.

But this year? This is inexplicable.