Penguins defenseman Douglas Murray, like some teammates, was stunned that the team would be swept by Boston.
By Shelly Anderson Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Defenseman Douglas Murray used a strong word to describe the time between his late-season arrival in Pittsburgh and the Penguins' crash and burn in the Eastern Conference final: Failure.
Murray, like his teammates, was stunned that such a stacked team would play so well in the regular season, lock up the top seed in the East, get through two rounds in the postseason, only to be swept by Boston.
"You see it as a failure, but that's how I feel everywhere when you lose out of the playoffs," Murray said. "This one I think is going to sting a lot more in the future, knowing what a great team we had. I saw it as a great opportunity when I got here and felt that all the way through.
"Right now, we just see it as a big failure."
Murray is one of three veteran players acquired in late March around the time of the NHL trade deadline who are eligible for unrestricted free agency if not re-signed by July 5. The others are wingers Jarome Iginla and Brenden Morrow.
Their standing with the Penguins and other matters -- including the status of coach Dan Bylsma -- will no doubt be broached today when general manager Ray Shero meets with reporters.
Even though Murray, 33, found that the disappointment at the end far overshadowed the Penguins' strong play otherwise, his impression of the club was strong enough that he hopes to re-sign.
"Absolutely," he said. "This is a very special team. It's a great organization."
Iginla and Morrow came away with a similar impression, but neither is sure about re-signing.
"I plan on being better next year," said Iginla, 35, a future Hall of Famer. "Unfortunately, I wasn't as good as I think I can be or believe I will be. I'll take a few weeks, get back to work. I think I'll have a better year, and maybe it will be here with [the Penguins].
"I believe the team is that good, that they will have those opportunities. Playing here, you can just feel what the team is capable of."
Morrow, 34, sounded more grateful to have gotten into the playoffs for the first time since 2008 than anything.
"I think this team here, they're in pretty good hands," he said. "They'll be in the mix with the top players they have here. For me, getting a taste of the playoffs again, it's something that drives you and something you look forward to every year.
"I have no idea what's going to happen July 5 [when free agency starts]. I've never been through it. I hope they see a place for me here. I was only here for a couple of months, but I fell in love with it."
After making in impact over the final weeks of the season after joining the Penguins, none of those three had any points or a great series against Boston.
Morrow got shuffled down to the fourth line.
Murray played on third defensive pairing and had a plus-minus rating of minus-3.
Iginla was a minus-4.
"It added a lot to our team depth," Bylsma said of the late-season trades that brought in those three plus forward Jussi Jokinen, who has a year left on his contract.
Bylsma indicated that some of them had to take reduced roles for the playoffs, based on the team's situation and a need to shake things up.
"I don't think Brenden Morrow's a fourth-line player," Bylsma said. "At the end of the day, they may have been utilized in some of those situations for our team, but I thought they all fit in well for our team.
"They all were of the mindset to play whatever role and do whatever situation to help our team win, and I think they did that."
Iginla, a natural right winger and a power-play fixture for years with Calgary, played more on the left side with the Penguins. He played on the point some on the power play but was off of the top unit altogether by the end of the playoffs. It was thought that perhaps he would play right wing with Sidney Crosby, linemates who helped Canada win the 2010 Olympic gold medal, but he played more with center Evgeni Malkin and right winger James Neal.
Which was OK with him.
"I came in and right away I got opportunities," Iginla said. "Right when I first got here, they put me on the power play, put me on the point and let me get a lot of shots. I got a chance to play with [Malkin]. Left wing, I was open [to it]. They talked about switching with [Neal], but [Neal] was comfortable at right, and I was happy to try left.
"At times, I probably wasn't as good there as I should have been, or even in my overall play. But I was happy to be on the left or right or wherever they asked me to play. I think I got great opportunities here to be a part of it. As far as ice time or whatever, being on a strong team like this, whatever amount was fine.
"It was just about winning, and, unfortunately, we didn't get that done."
For much more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus. Shelly Anderson: email@example.com, 412-263-1721 and Twitter @pgshelly. Seth Rorabaugh contributed to this report. First Published June 12, 2013 4:00 AM