Frustration over losing streak bubbling over among Penguins

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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Penguins, less than five months after advancing to the Stanley Cup final, are at a loss, with frustration bubbling over.

They have scored just four goals over the first three games of a road trip that so far has netted an 0-2-1 record and ends tomorrow in St. Louis.

And they can't agree on why things are going wrong.

After a 4-1 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes last night, forward Jordan Staal was as candid as any player has so far been about problems the Penguins are having.

"We just didn't come out prepared for this game," he said. "It seems like the guys aren't buying into our system and working hard, basically. It's really frustrating."

As for why that's the case, Staal couldn't say.

"That's a question that's kind of left unanswered in this dressing room and it's really on each player and what they can do for this team," said Staal, who has three assists but has yet to score through 11 games, in which the Penguins are 5-4-2.

"It's little plays, just the little things," he said. "I'm definitely one of them. I'm not playing my best and neither are a lot of players on this team. It's a frustrating time right now."

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who left the third period with an undisclosed injury and is listed as day to day, didn't exactly concur with Staal.

"I don't think it has anything to do with the system," Crosby said. "It has to do with urgency. ... The first period, we didn't have enough urgency, and it takes more than a system to do that, so I don't know if I would agree with that.

"I think it's more urgency and attitude for wanting the puck."

Like Staal, though, Crosby was at a loss for what the team can do to find that urgency -- and other ills.

"There's a lot of things," he said. "Urgency is one thing, but if you don't make plays, you make it tough on yourself to create opportunities. Urgency comes from momentum, too. It comes from getting chances and feeding off of that. If you can't sustain momentum consistently, then it's tough to keep things going.

"You can't have one good shift, one bad one here and there. It's got to be consistent, and we haven't done that."

Coach Michel Therrien allowed that not executing his system could be part of the problem.

"I think they're still learning," he said. "The system is only 50 percent of the game. After that, players have to play hard."

Defenseman Hal Gill suggested that the Penguins are still getting to know one another after a lot of offseason roster changes, but Therrien wasn't buying it.

"That's an excuse," he said.


Shelly Anderson can be reached at shanderson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1721.


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