Forget about misery loving company. Jordan Staal just wanted to be left alone Saturday after Tampa Bay's 8-2 pounding of the Penguins, the greatest margin of defeat in club playoff history.
Who can blame him?
Staal is the Penguins' first-line center but hasn't scored a goal and has only two points in this Eastern Conference quarterfinal series. The 6-foot-4, 220-pounder is the net-front presence for a power play that went 0 for 7 in Game 5 and is 1 for 25 in the series. He is at the heart of the league's top penalty-killing unit -- which allowed the Lightning to score four power-play goals Saturday.
Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said nothing Sunday to absolve Staal of the blame for the lopsided loss or the burden of responsibility that comes with being the top forward on a team missing its two superstar centers.
"You're talking about a guy who plays in every situation every time he goes over the boards," Bylsma said. "And there are other scenarios of the game that are like that as well. He could have a good power-play night and not a good penalty-kill night, and he's walking home not feeling maybe great about his game because of how much he means to our team.
"But our team and how we play and the emotions of our team, a lot of it is through Jordan. Last game wasn't good in a lot of regards; we don't feel good about the game. But now it's time to refocus and get on to Game 6, and Jordan will be a big part of what we need to do and how we need to play to be successful and how we have been successful in the series."
Staal has a tendency to be at his best in the biggest moments, and that is precisely what you should expect of the 22-year-old alternate captain tonight when the Penguins visit the Lightning for Game 6.
There's no shortage of confidence in their dressing room that Staal will deliver, whether it's heroics like having another three-goal third period like he did in Detroit in November 2008 and the short-handed goal in Game 4 of the 2009 Stanley Cup Final or by simply winning the majority of his faceoffs, being a dominant defensive presence and setting up a scoring chance.
Pens need super Staal
Pittsburgh Tribune Review | Apr 25