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So, Is This The End For Us My Friend?



There is a Creed song from the movie Scream 3 that has the title: Is This The End?

It closes with:

So, is this the end for us my friend?

Sitting here today that's the thought going through my head with regard to Dan Bylsma's coaching days with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

I am one of those people that thinks the Penguins can come back from the 0-3 deficit in this series and win it.

Now, I'm not crazy (my mom had me checked) - I said THINKS and CAN...not KNOWS and WILL.

The trouble is...that kind of comeback - although possible - is VERY difficult and, as history shows us, not very common.

So if we gaze into our crystal ball for a minute and image that we wake tomorrow morning to find the Penguins have put up another

valiant effort (like game 3...finally) but still lost to the Bruins in 4 games, what will that mean for head coach Dan Bylsma?

Even if we imagine a scenario where the Penguins win a couple of games and lose the series in 6...what will it mean for Dan?

I'm of the opinion that nothing short of the Penguins forcing game 7 in this series...

and winning (okay, maybe losing in heartbreaking triple OT fashion)...will save Dan's job.

Of course, I'm just a fan...I don't officially get paid to think about this stuff or have any say in what actually goes down.

But there's a pretty strong argument that if the Penguins don't make a historic (or almost) comeback against the Bruins, the coach must go.

Assuming a series loss to the Bruins...the facts are pretty clear.

The Penguins will have been eliminated from the playoffs - for the 4th year in a row - by a team they were expected to beat.

The Penguins will have displayed - for a 4th year in a row - an inability to grasp the concepts of patience and composure when it's needed most.

The Penguins will have shown - for a 4th year in a row - the insane ability to look like the best team in hockey one day and the

world's biggest turnover machine the next.

Of course, it's not ALL Dan's fault. You have to believe that even with his north/south approach to the game he has told his players to make

sure they do smart things, not dumb things. The players have done a number of dumb things over the past 4 playoff seasons.

But when you look at the 'embarrassment of riches' roster that GM Ray Shero has put together for this Stanley Cup Playoffs...

the skill, talent, size and grit...you have to ask the question:

Could any team be better prepared for a cup run from a player personnel standpoint?

(ok...you don't really need to ask that because the answer is NO)

Look, I like Dan. He's a good guy and, in a lot of ways, a good coach. But something is not right here and it's either in the way the

players are coached or the way they respond to what they are being told to do.

The biggest problem that I (and others who observe the team regularly) see is that there appears to be a certain stubbornness/resistance

to alterations in the game plan.

Again, whether it's the coaches plan or the players execution, the problem is that there have been way too many times to mention when

it appears this team is moving head on for a collision with a semi and does not alter it's course.

Pittsburgh Tribune Review hockey columnist Dejan Kovacevic had some really good points in his article today


The best part for me was when he mentioned the Peguins only getting THREE shots off rebounds through the entire series to date. THREE.

Dejan asserts:

"And the glaring reason is that, once in the Boston zone, rather than simply gunning and going to the net

— picture an armada of Tyler Kennedy clones — they've insanely tried to Mario their way through four boxed-in Bruins,

including Zdeno Chara and his 75-foot stick.

That's on the coach."

I couldn't agree more or have said it any better than that.

And it's not just this series against the Bruins where this has happened,

So, Is This The End For Us My Friend?

I'm sorry to say, but unless the Penguins manage to pull off a miracle comeback in this series,

I believe the answer as it relates to Dan Bylsma's head coaching days in Pittsburgh is yes.


Recommended Comments

Great article, though I will argue 1 point. Forgive me for my homerism here for a bit. The Flyers series last year was a 4/5 matchup. In my mind I thought the Flyers matched up pretty well with the Pens. Our biggest question mark was in goalies. (well it still is a major ???? for us)

the Flyers last year during the regular season showed that they can hang with the Pens and beat the Pens. (The Flyers for some strange reason, still own you guys in your new barn).

I know there were some experts that had the Flyers beating the Pens last year. IF anything, the Flyers gave a nice tidy blueprint in how to beat the Pens during the Playoffs. The Isles had some muscle and grit the Sens had none. Now you run into a Bruins team that will not only shove back, but shove back hard. The Pens have a notion to getting caught of in the emotion.

In answer to your original question, I will be shocked if the Pens do lose in 4 or 5 game and Blysma is back behind the bench next year. This type of ousting will not sit well with upper Pens management.

Sounds like you guys could have a very interesting off season........

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If the coach goes it will be because of the first two games at home...they lost their composure and got rattled...that should have been corrected after game one...game two was worse...that is on the coach and how he prepared them...games three and four they played playoff hockey and each could have gone their way so something got through but the damage was done

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Great read again icedog.

With all of the coaching turnover this season Blysma isn't one of those coaches I expect to be fired. I blame the players themselves for taking the Bruins for granted the first couple of games in Pittsburgh. Basically since the trade deadline the team didn't have to take themselves to the next level to win games. There were some decent individual efforts, but they were not the best team.

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The problem with the Penguins is that some part of their current make-up...implodes when it needs to excel. The guys they brought in this year aren't the reason for it...it happened last year against the Flyers too.

That's why I think it's a systematic problem. These players are playing a gameplan or system that is countered effectively by some teams and then they implode. They get frustrated trying the same things over and over again without success.

The coaches job is to recognize that and CHANGE if needed.

I didn't see any changes in approach. I saw different players (goalies and forward)...I saw line juggling...but it appeared to me the overall gameplan was the same.

Maybe the conference finals are too late to try something new...but after last season...and the two playoff years before...this team should have been prepared for what the Bruins showed them and been able to adjust and find a new approach that was effective.

I think given the past 4 playoff exists...and how they lost this year...last year and in game 7 versus the Habs a few years back...that this falls on the coaches and the system (or lack their of) they are trying to play.

The best coaches find a way to win. They take what the other team gives and exploit their weaknesses. The Bruins did that to the Pens (and got some great goaltending along the way). There's no way the Pens should have scored 2 goals in 4 games and been swept. It happened...but something is fundamentally wrong with them at this point.

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