PITTSBURGH — Sidney Crosby understands the price of disappointment. And while others — namely Penguins coach Dan Bylsma — likely will face the consequences following another early playoff exit, the NHL’s brightest star isn’t shirking his share of the blame.
The way Crosby sees it, Pittsburgh’s failings lie with the guys who pull the sweaters over their heads.
“At the end of the day, we feel responsible,” Crosby said Thursday. “We are the guys that go out there and want to perform and want to win, and we have that expectation.”
Ones that weren’t met for a fifth consecutive spring after the Penguins frittered a 3-1 series lead in an eventual seven-game loss to the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference semifinals. A half-decade after hoisting the Stanley Cup in Detroit at age 21, Crosby and the franchise he represents are still searching for a bookend.
“It’s difficult to win, and I don’t think there’s been any lack of effort from players, coaches, anybody in the conversation,” Crosby said. “I don’t think it’s been a lack of trying.”
There has, however, been a lack of doing. The Penguins have been a marvel during the regular season under Bylsma, who is 252-117-32 since taking over for Michel Therrien in the late stages of the 2008-09 season. Yet all those regular-season triumphs haven’t prevented Pittsburgh from being knocked out of the playoffs by a lower-seeded team five consecutive times.
Pressed on what needs to change, Crosby didn’t point to the coaching staff but instead a shift in mindset, particularly when the postseason begins.
“Maybe we need to adjust the way we play a little bit better and play more physical,” Crosby said.