The Penguins have made some changes in their coaching staff during this off season and based on last years sweep by the Bruins, we expect to see some of those changes reflected in how they play the game on the ice.
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I think it's pretty clear the hiring of Jacques Martin is a sign that Ray Shero wants his team to be able to respond better in situations where their original game plan is not working as desired. Martin lends an experienced (and defensive minded) voice to the team and you would like to think that voice will come in handy during situations where a little more structure would probably go a long way.
But the big question I have is: Will the story be the same in how the players respond when the chips are down?
When the Penguins lost to the Flyers a couple of years back, it was pretty clear that it was easier to get into the collective psyche of the team than one would have imagined - especially considering many of it's players had been to back to back cup finals and won the second time there.
Last year against the Bruins, we saw similar things during the sweep...guys coming unraveled a little too much or too easily.
Of course we could just say in both cases that the better team won...which they did.
But exactly why were they the better team?
Could it be because they were tougher mentally?
I believe the biggest changes the Penguins need to make for this season are the kind that take place in the area between the ears. It's been well documented that when it comes to the starting goaltender, Marc Andre Fleury -- all the talent, ability and hard work is there - but something is missing in the mental focus and mental toughness areas.
While it might not be fair to say that of MAF, it's probably not too far off and while it might not be true of many players on the Penguins roster, it appears that perhaps more players than just MAF suffer a similar shortcoming.
To me, this is the area of their game that requires the most work. I'm sure some changes in the way they play the game will help...but how and what they think during the games is what will ultimately determine their fate in 2013-14.
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