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.
"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.