Bylsma: “We’ve got to be a tougher team to play against”

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Earlier tonight, PHT asked readers who’s the most to blame for the Pittsburgh Penguins’ precarious 2-0 deficit against the Philadelphia Flyers after tonight’s 8-5 loss. If you ask a good chunk of Penguins players, it seems like they’d put a check mark in the “defense” category.

Brooks Orpik didn’t pull punches when discussing the tough game with Ray Fittipaldo.

“It’s execution, realizing what we’re doing wrong. We have to execute better,” Orpik said. “They’re taking advantage of every mistake we’re making. We’re hanging our goalie out to dry, that’s for sure.”

Orpik was blunt, yet he didn’t really give much of an indication regarding how the Penguins might “execute better.” Head coach Dan Bylsma provides the headline quote “We’ve got to be a tougher team to play against” to Seth Rorabaugh, but Jordan Staal was probably the most specific when he discussed what might be an important consideration.

“The game has been too open,” Staal said. “They’re a very fast team and they jump on opportunities when they can.”

Staal indirectly brings up an interesting thought that’s been bubbling up more and more lately: are the Penguins playing into Philly’s hands by trading blows? Sure, Pittsburgh lead the NHL in scoring during the regular season, but the Penguins have shown an ability to grind out ugly wins quite often the last couple years. Perhaps Pittsburgh should muck things up as if Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin aren’t in the lineup, then?

It’s an awkward thought, but when you’re down 2-0 via two grueling losses, it’s probably time for some brutal self-assessment.