'This series is not over'

Chris Kunitz laughs during the Penguins media availability at the Mellon Arena on Monday. (Sun...

Chris Kunitz laughs during the Penguins media availability at the Mellon Arena on Monday. (Sun Media/Dave Abel)

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:18 AM ET

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the faces of the franchise, were nowhere to be seen yesterday at Mellon Arena.

But those who did show up for the Penguins put up a brave face.

"Having a game plan for the playoffs, I made a point of saying: 'Every day doesn't need to be the Sidney Crosby day.' There have been days when he hasn't been out here," Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said. "That was it. We made the choice to give other people the chance to be up here for you people to talk to them.

"We feel it's important for this to be a team thing, not just Dan Bylsma and Sidney Crosby at the podium every day."

Down 2-0 in the Stanley Cup final to the defending champion Detroit Red Wings as the series shifts to Pittsburgh for Game 3 tonight and Game 4 on Thursday and facing long odds in making a comeback, the Penguins swore to a man that there is a lot of hockey left to be played.

"This series is not over. We're getting chances. Going into this series, we knew it wasn't going to be easy playing against a great team," Pittsburgh blueliner Sergei Gonchar said. "We knew this was going to be tough. We're not frustrated. We just have to keep playing and do the same thing."

But if the Penguins are going to crawl out of this hole, a lot is going to have to turn quickly. Reporters grasping at straws wanted to talk about Pittsburgh's ability to come back from being down 2-0 to Washington in Round 2 and winning the series in seven games.

Well, the Caps weren't the defending champs and the Red Wings have a lot more firepower than Washington does. It hasn't helped that Crosby and Malkin haven't had the kind of production in this series that they had earlier in the playoffs. Both have shown signs of frustration.

After Game 1, Crosby tapped Kirk Maltby on the skate as he was going out to congratulate Chris Osgood. Malkin had an automatic suspension overturned by NHL VP Colin Campbell on Sunday after receiving an instigator with 19 seconds left when he jumped Detroit's Henrik Zetterberg.

"You worry as a coach about frustration when you can't let go of previous events," Bylsma said. "For the most part, our guys have been able to do a good job of refocusing and getting back ready for the next shift, the next period and the next game.

"We haven't gotten the result that we've wanted, but right to the end of both games we've stuck to the game plan, kept on our guys and kept going. While you see that we're emotionally attached, I don't see the frustration lasting longer than coming back to the bench and getting ready for the next shift. We certainly talk about the emotion of the game."

Neither the Crosby incident nor the Malkin one speaks well to their mental approach and the fact they weren't at the media availability spoke volumes about the frustration.

Gonchar said Crosby and Malkin want success, like everybody else.

"They're both really emotionally attached to the series. They both are dedicated to winning and helping our team win," Gonchar said. "They go out there every night and do the best they can. Yeah, I'm sure there's maybe a little bit of frustration that sets in, but I think it's just the emotion of the game. Wanting to do better and wanting us to win."

Only Crosby and Malkin know the real story, and they weren't willing to tell it yesterday.


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