Courtesy of Point Park University

Kovacevic: A fistful of reasons for a rebound


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Teddy Blueger and the Lightning's Adam Erne fight Saturday night in Tampa, Fla. - MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

TAMPA, Fla. -- A decade ago, on June 27, 2009, Garrett Wilson was drafted by the Panthers.

A half-decade ago, on March 23, 2014, Wilson made his NHL debut.

And on this very Saturday night inside Amalie Arena, with one of his best buds saucering the puck for the sweetest of two-on-one setups, a scene he'd undoubtedly dragged via daydream through a billion bus rides from Binghamton to Bridgeport, Wilson finally, finally scored his first NHL goal ...

... and visibly, palpably couldn't come close to enjoying it.

"I mean, it felt good," Wilson told me, seated at his stall, barely able to look up. "I waited a long time for that one. I went a long time thinking about what that would be like. But ..."


"But that was a hard-fought game. I really wanted that one. We all did."

Teddy Blueger, the best bud with the apple, sat silently nearby, nodding and staring straight ahead as if waiting to be sent back over the boards.

So, yeah, the Penguins took this one to heart, this 5-4 loss to the league-leading Lightning. They were bloodied, beaten up, even humbled at times, but they also pushed, shoved, scratched, clawed and however one would care to label Patric Hornqvist's behavior over the evening ... only to come up short.

It wasn't enough. And it hurt, judging from a terse, tense locker room afterward.

"This one's a tough one," Jared McCann told me. "We put everything we had into that, and to not come out on top ..."

I'm guessing the reaction back home in front of TV sets was much the same. In a way, these kinds of losses can sting, inside and outside the team, more than some lazy flat-liner against some lousy opponent. Because these show the collective at its theoretical peak, both in performance and passion. And when that isn't enough, it can raise bigger, broader doubt.

It shouldn't.

I know, I know, no one's in the mood for anything remotely positive. And I won't pretend there aren't real problems. But I also won't pretend they can't be addressed, given the pedigree and character at hand.

So, rather than investing this column in ripping everyone for everything that went awry -- I've got the game report for that -- here instead are a handful of potential solutions, listed deliberately in descending order:

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