They frustrate you and pester you and take away your weapons while theirs fire at will.
This is what the Pittsburgh Penguins have become.
Flustered, insecure, ineffective and oblivious. Their Game 1 loss teetered on the brink of an unraveling the likes they had in their playoff defeat to the Philadelphia Flyers in 2012. Their Game 2 loss was something much more unsettling: a humiliating 6-1 defeat on home ice in which the Penguins’ levels of apathy surged alarmingly.
When Dan Bylsma says “I think the first team to score a goal is going to win this hockey game tonight" ... well, how does one expect the Penguins to react?
The Bruins built the lead to 3-0: Nathan Horton on a rebound from Tomas Vokoun, and then David Krejci on a pretty passing play.
Out went Vokoun, in came Marc-Andre Fleury. The Penguins cut the lead on a Brandon Sutter goal, but Brad Marchand – after tangling with Matt Cooke at center ice – scored 25 seconds later.
Patrice Bergeron and Johnny Boychuk scored in the third, and the Bruins cruised to the 6-1 win, in front of a sea of empty seats at Consol Energy Center on Monday night.
The Penguins were outscored 9-1 in two games at home. Their power play, the best in hockey, was 0-for-6 over two games. Vokoun was pulled in Game 2. They had 20 giveaways to the Bruins’ three.
The Bruins stars came to play in these two games. Zdeno Chara was a beast. Brad Marchand had two goals. Nathan Horton had 2 goals and 3 assists. David Krejci had three goals. Patrice Bergeron had two points and faceoff winning percentages of 63 and 67. Tuukka Rask was impenetrable.
The Penguins stars have yet to arrive in the Eastern Conference Final. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, James Neal and Jarome Iginla are a combined minus-19 without a single point scored through games. Letang and Malkin were a special kind of terrible in Game 2.
The Bruins are tightening their hands around the neck of this series, choking off the Penguins’ offense in a way no team has this season. Dan Bylsma has some incredible decisions to make before Game 3, beginning with who will stop the pucks for the Penguins: Vokoun, whose team let him down, or Fleury, who didn’t inspire much confidence in his relief appearance.
Meanwhile, the Bruins have all the confidence in the series -- and more importantly, the 2-0 lead heading back to Boston.