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http://triblive.com/sports/penguins/6082990-74/game-crosby-sunday#axzz31VsBWjoX

 

 

By Dejan Kovacevic

Published: Sunday, May 11, 2014, 10:57 p.m.
Updated 10 hours ago

NEW YORK — Things will change.

Things must change.

If these Penguins go down in flames for yet another Stanley Cup playoffs by falling to the Rangers in Game 7 on Tuesday. If they do so after barely breaking a sweat against an exhausted and otherwise unremarkable opponent. If they do so after two of the least passionate postseason performances in franchise history — including the 3-1 throttling in Game 6 on Sunday night at Madison Square Garden — then this really would be it.

This would be a gag unlike any we've seen, even in a half-decade of spring failure.

This would be the one that gets Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle involved.

This would be the one that brings meaningful, maybe seismic change.

I'm told ownership is fed up. They're furious. That's not a guess, either. They don't like what they're seeing, and no, unlike the bulk of the fan base, they don't see it solely as a coaching issue. They don't like any of what they're seeing.

And the changes that could result from that … wow, the mind boggles.

Dan Bylsma tops the list, and there should be no question that he should.

Can anyone convince me why his job should be safe if a choke is completed?

It's wholly incumbent on the head coach to have his players energized and focused on employing winning strategy. So when the Penguins have risen to that level in three of 12 playoff games by my count. When they concede the first two goals and 12 of the first 14 shots in this one. When they dump puck into the attacking zone six times in the first period and never once touch the puck on one of hockey's most easily scripted plays. When they preach a north-south power play while all the passes go east-west. When they repeat the importance of avoiding stupid penalties by forwards and Beau Bennett, James Neal, Jussi Jokinen and Sidney Crosby take more stupid penalties Sunday … we're either talking about nothing being taught or outright insubordination.

Either way, it's damning.

And yet, in spite of all that, Bylsma's most forceful statement about the latest slow start: “It is a concern. You're behind by two goals for … 52 minutes, I think it was, and that was a hole we couldn't dig ourselves out of.”

Move over, Knute!

Make no mistake: This coach is in trouble.

Ray Shero can't emerge unscathed, either. The lack of organizational depth is due to drafting that's been scandalously bad since Craig Patrick's departure. And the broader composition of the roster, notably its sudden softness and its preference for pokechecking over hitting and its fragility and its nonchalance, that's on the GM, too.

For crying out loud, the Rangers' Rick Nash, who can skate with eggs in his pocket and not crack one for weeks, actually hit someone in this game!

How emboldened is any opponent for that to happen?

Crosby isn't going anywhere, but his role can't be ignored.

We've seen exactly one Crosby-like performance and exactly one Crosby goal. Oh, and one shot taken on the power play this entire series, a floating wrister from 45 feet Sunday. And I don't want to hear excuses that he might be hurt. Not anymore. I don't believe he is. At least not physically.

What's more, this is the captain, at least according to that “C” on his sweater, and we aren't seeing any semblance of leadership on or off the ice. We sure didn't see it with that childish cross-checking penalty at the end of the second with his team down two goals.

Sid's scathing indictment of his team and/or himself: “We're working hard, but we still have to do a better job of clearing rebounds and getting to the net.”

By my count, exactly one player has been saying all the right things and backing them. That's Matt Niskanen, who remarkably has no letter on his sweater.

You know, I can't even bring myself to mention Marc-Andre Fleury and his couple of weak goals the past two games. Because it would be criminal to assume success for any goaltender playing behind a dispirited, disorganized and undisciplined team like this. Maybe he'll come into play, too, but not yet for me.

For now, all of the above, and so much less, has brought the Penguins to this Game 7, to this potentially pivotal point in their history. Lemieux and Burkle were here again Sunday. Lemieux sat with Crosby at his stall after the game. That's a pretty powerful message.

It will be fascinating, on so many levels, to see if anyone even cares.



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Been saying it for a few years...I don't think Shero is that good of a gm. He was spotted 2 great players, and 3 more top 5 picks. He's added a guy here and a guy there. He won one cup on a team built by someone else. Not a whole lot to show for 8 years IMO.

 

 Bylsma doesn't seem to be able to control his team. Maybe it's because they're led by a great player who has an heir of entitlement, i don't know, but they sure are easy to get off their game.

 

 They could still win this series. They could go to the cup if Montreal can beat Boston. I don't see them beating the Bruins though, or any other team that can play a physical game under control.

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Obviously there is a lot to be concerned about.  I still say Bylsma tops the list.  I don't think Shero has done a bad job at all.  In drafting, people would rather he take a weak forward than a strong defenseman just because we're already deep in that position?  I wouldn't.  I'd rather take the best available player and if need be look for someone to trade for that forward.  Do it from a position of strength, not weakness.  

 

I'm glad Lemieux is in the room.  I hope he can get Sid to make a difference.  I hope they make some roster changes, and maybe Mario punches Bylsma in the nose when he screws up with bad lines and poor decisions.  

 

I'll be at the game tuesday.  I'll support them through and through.  But if they lose, I'll be the first one watching to see what changes are made.  This team should go further than it does.  The skill set is there.  What does it take to get the motivation to go with it?  

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I don't think Shero has done a 'bad' job either... but not great.  He hasn't really had many options considering how strapped they are with malkin/crosby's contracts.  He's done fairly well at plugging the holes that have come up and did fleece Dallas pretty severely with the Neal (prick)/Niskanen deal.

 

I just think the fact that they haven't found a true winger for crosby (other than kunitz) is a bit of an issue.... whether that's crosby's or shero's fault, i don't know.

Edited by fishbulb
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Ray Shero can't emerge unscathed, either. The lack of organizational depth is due to drafting that's been scandalously bad since Craig Patrick's departure. And the broader composition of the roster, notably its sudden softness and its preference for pokechecking over hitting and its fragility and its nonchalance, that's on the GM, too.

 

I get you are bent and on a rant, but not sure that I agree on some things. The Pens farm system is actually very good (and in fact sustained the Pens team through a high amount of man-injury-games). Additionally, while not stellar in futures rankings for prospects, not horrible either (middle of the pack actually). 

 

I think the Blysma rant is spot on (and as a Flyers fan, I think Berube got out coached in the first round against the rags as well). The difference is that the Pens were up in the series. If they lose game 7 (which is a legitimate possibility), heads will roll.

 

Truthfully, I think Crosby's days are numbered in pitts. Its not to say he is not one of the best players in the world, because he it, but more that the team make-up / salary with him and malkin / Fleury etc. does not make sense. Somebody has to go.  

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He hasn't really had many options considering how strapped they are with malkin/crosby's contracts.

 

I would augment that to add Neal, Martin and MAF to that mix. 5 players (less than 25% of the team) make up nearly 50% of the budget. That all falls on Shero as he is the one to sign those contracts.

 

Truthfully, the rangers 5-on-5 play and defensive play has just been better. You can call it lackadaisical by the pens if you want, but nothing has changed in the Rags ability from the 1st to 2nd round.

 

There are 3 players ahead of Crosby in production on the pens in the playoffs this year and one of them is a dman (niskanen). That is as damning as it comes. Crosby should not wear the horse collar on this one, but when you are supposed to be the best player on the planet. 

 

If I am the GM, regardless of game 7 outcome, I let crosby go. I take one albatross salary / player for another: Shea Weber for Sydney Crosby. 

 

Nashville has a staple of young d-men, but can't score. Pitts sorely needs a dynamic dman like Weaber (Martin and Letang are not it).

 

I think its a win / win for both teams. 

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Sorry. I think any talk of trading someone about to win the Hart trophy is certifiably nuts.

I'd try with an actual coach before trading away the best player in the league.

I'd also go for a little more grit on the team and several fewer ice dancers.

I'll default to the Pens fans who know a lot more than me about the team, but I do think Shero is a bit overrated. I think if they lose game seven that he's stuck with the status quo (in terms of coach and style of team) a bit too long. I think his team has benefited from being in an okay but ultimately also-ran division the last few years.

If the rags win this series it may be the least deserving playoff series win I've seen since the rags beat the Flyers

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Sorry. I think any talk of trading someone about to win the Hart trophy is certifiably nuts.

 

Yeah, so what? I understand where you are coming from, but why not? I have ALWAYS thought this way (one of the two should go). Not that they have to, but should. Nobody wants Malkin to be their poster child. I get that, but the flip side is that a trade of Crosby is a poster child in of its own. 

 

Malkin and Crosby have put up nearly identical numbers in the playoffs (with Malkin storming ahead in a couple of categories). Is there production a by-product of each other being on the same team, perhaps. 

 

Pitts needs to not be so top heavy. If moving a Crosby / Malkin  gets me a blue chip, and some high picks, I do it. I want my team balanced and not toppling over bechase of its big head(s). 

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Yeah, I just don't put either in the Ovechkin territory.

I try an actual coach first. Otherwise, you trade away the best player in the league and still have a lousy coach. Actually, it could be worse since lousy coach has no hope of coaching a team built on defense or one playing without said best player in the league.

Just saying that I think the Pens can win with Crosby and malkin. They already have. But I do think the GM has undervalued some of the grit he started out with and has replaced them with ice dancers.

From casually looking from the outside IF they lose game seven (wouldn't bury them yet) I'd fire the GM and let him hire a new coach. How would Barry Trotz look in Pittsburgh?

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I get you are bent and on a rant, but not sure that I agree on some things. The Pens farm system is actually very good (and in fact sustained the Pens team through a high amount of man-injury-games). Additionally, while not stellar in futures rankings for prospects, not horrible either (middle of the pack actually). 

 

I think the Blysma rant is spot on (and as a Flyers fan, I think Berube got out coached in the first round against the rags as well). The difference is that the Pens were up in the series. If they lose game 7 (which is a legitimate possibility), heads will roll.

 

Truthfully, I think Crosby's days are numbered in pitts. Its not to say he is not one of the best players in the world, because he it, but more that the team make-up / salary with him and malkin / Fleury etc. does not make sense. Somebody has to go.  

 

I should have clarified - I don't agree with all  of the article. ;)   I don't put this on Shero.  When the talent is there but that talent is underperforming then I put it on the coach. It's the same core than won in 2009.  I firmly believe that with better coaching this team would not be in the position it's in right now.

 

As for Crosby leaving? Never happen. I'm all for any trade that makes the team better but that's just...well....won't happen.

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Been saying it for a few years...I don't think Shero is that good of a gm. He was spotted 2 great players, and 3 more top 5 picks. He's added a guy here and a guy there. He won one cup on a team built by someone else. Not a whole lot to show for 8 years IMO.

 

 Bylsma doesn't seem to be able to control his team. Maybe it's because they're led by a great player who has an heir of entitlement, i don't know, but they sure are easy to get off their game.

 

 They could still win this series. They could go to the cup if Montreal can beat Boston. I don't see them beating the Bruins though, or any other team that can play a physical game under control.

 

Agree on Bylsma.  Disagree on Shero (Shero thread forthcoming ;) ). 

 

As for Crosby - honestly - what gives you (and many others) that impression?  Serious question. 

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I would augment that to add Neal, Martin and MAF to that mix. 5 players (less than 25% of the team) make up nearly 50% of the budget. That all falls on Shero as he is the one to sign those contracts.

 

 

But - MAF, Neal and Martin are all making market value or less.  I'd say MAF is right where he should be. Neal and Martin under. Crosby is definitely under just going by what OV, Malkin, Giroux, Perry and Getzlaf are making. 

 

I can't fault Shero for signing guys to contracts at less than up to fair market value. 

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But - MAF, Neal and Martin are all making market value or less.  I'd say MAF is right where he should be. Neal and Martin under. Crosby is definitely under just going by what OV, Malkin, Giroux, Perry and Getzlaf are making. 
 
I can't fault Shero for signing guys to contracts at less than up to fair market value. 

 

Crosby gave a bit of a home team discount. But there are two things here: 

 

1) Are his additional 20 percent of scoring / play  that consequential to the team that already has a player of the same ilk (Malkin) to make it worth it? 

 

2) Having both Malkin / Crosby and the other players I mentioned on the team makes it hard to balance the roster. I / we cant argue about the value (ie. cost of those players) because of how you broke it down. Financially, nobody is getting overpaid. 

 

Yet is it worth having that many high players (tier 1) on the same team vs. balancing it with more tier 2 / tier 3 players? For example, currently the Pens have 55M committed in cap for next season. They have 10 (at a glance) roster spots to fill. Assuming a cap of 71M next year, that leaves 2m a roster spot on average. Niskanen is going to need a substantial raise (career year / pay day year). He will get 5M on market value. If pitts resigns him, that leaves 11M for the other 9 roster spots (now we are at 1m per player average). So, nearly half you team can only make 1M. 

 

Is that fiscally responsible for the success of the team? 

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Crosby gave a bit of a home team discount. But there are two things here: 

 

1) Are his additional 20 percent of scoring / play  that consequential to the team that already has a player of the same ilk (Malkin) to make it worth it? 

 

2) Having both Malkin / Crosby and the other players I mentioned on the team makes it hard to balance the roster. I / we cant argue about the value (ie. cost of those players) because of how you broke it down. Financially, nobody is getting overpaid. 

 

Yet is it worth having that many high players (tier 1) on the same team vs. balancing it with more tier 2 / tier 3 players? For example, currently the Pens have 55M committed in cap for next season. They have 10 (at a glance) roster spots to fill. Assuming a cap of 71M next year, that leaves 2m a roster spot on average. Niskanen is going to need a substantial raise (career year / pay day year). He will get 5M on market value. If pitts resigns him, that leaves 11M for the other 9 roster spots (now we are at 1m per player average). So, nearly half you team can only make 1M. 

 

Is that fiscally responsible for the success of the team? 

 

Fair points.  To which I will counter - which team doesn't have a handful of $500,000 - $1,000,000 guys making up the 4th line?

 

They actually have 12 signed at that $55,000,000 plus Fleury and Zatkoff.  7 forwards. 5 defencemen.

 

So we need 2 defencemen and 6 forwards - give or take. $2,500,000 per player.

 

I think they bring back Vitale - let's say $750,000 (a raise).

 

Sutter and Depres are RFA. Sutter's qualifying offer is $2,700,000. Depres is $850,500.

 

Plug those numbers in and we are at $59,400,000. $11,600,000 left for 4 forwards and a 7th defenceman (or Niskanen which makes Bortuzzo your 7th defenceman).

 

$6,000,000 per fair for Niskanen? I think so.

 

So $5,600,000 left for 4 forwards. 2 3rd line wingers and 2 4th liners.  Think that can be had?

 

There is flexibility there - do they let Niskanen walk and see if a Harrington or a Pouliot or a Dumoulin can win a spot? Then use that $6,000,000 on that ever so needy winger for Crosby and Malkin? Or do they use that $6,000,000 to add some Bruin-like depth/grit/character to the 3rd or 4th lines?

 

And what if they can move a player like a Scuderi?

 

My point is that their cap situation is not at all dire even with having a small # of players take up a large chunk of cap space.

Edited by B21
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Here's how I see it.  The Pens have done a fantastic job at building a phenomenal regular season team.  They've put in place a system where every knows their role, and things don't very much.  Their AHL affiliate plays the exact same system, and players can come up and down, and they fill in immediately without any learning curve.  They have two start players, that in the grind of the regular season, where teams aren't going to drop to block shots, and not have an all out 100% attitude every night, are going to thrive.

 

They built a poor playoff team, who can't adjust in game let alone between games because they have a coach who only knows "the system". After two games, the other team figures out where the area passes are going to go, when the reverses are coming and how the entry will be made because its always the same.  The Rangers are having a field day now because they understand the Pens system, and its still not changing.   They have also built a team that does not understand that the rules change in the playoffs, ou can hold, hook and interfere almost at will, you can set 3 or 4 guys across your blue line to slow down the entry while the lone defeneman retrieves. But no, let's keep backing in, with our system, and not take the chance of drawing a penalty.  

 

The ONLY adjustment DFB has made was to put Malkin and Crosby on the same line since game 5 of the Jackets series.    It created an immediate impact in that series, and had good chemistry in the first 4 games of this series.  But the Rags have adjusted, they've loaded up defensively against the "big" line, and have neutralized them.  At the same time, without a center to feed him, he's removed all effectiveness of James Neal, who by the way is not even on the top PP line now, which is where he scored most of his goals this season!

 

But my biggest problem, No playoff toughness. He has provided NO protection, whatsoever, to Crosby.    Can you imagine what would have happened to Marc Staal in the day if he had crosschecked, punched and elbowed Gretzky in the head in Edmonton? Mr. McSorley's fist, meet Marc Staal's face.  I give Crosby credit, until the spear in the last game he has not retalliated to this stuff, I think he was waiting for one of his teammates to step in, because you don't want Crosby in the box.  But no one has, so the Jackets, and now the Rangers, are hitting him legally and illegally all they can, because its not getting called, and no one on the Pens has stepped up to confront them.   I have no explanation to this.  I called for Engellend to be in the lineup after game 2 to put an end to this stuff, hasn't happened.  Pens can say they are a team all they want, but if no one is going to step up to protect their prime assets, they are in big trouble.

 

I said before the playoffs started, I did not think they could win the cup this year, just not the team to do it.  If they're not going to win the cup, I'd rather see them lose this round instead of in the Conf. finals.  If they lose to the Rangers, it should be the end of DFB, if he makes it to the conf finals, they may keep him on no matter what else occurs.

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Fair points.  To which I will counter - which team doesn't have a handful of $500,000 - $1,000,000 guys making up the 4th line?

 

99%, except of course the Flyers. Our fourth line center pays for the fourth line and at least a winger third line. 

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Fair points.  To which I will counter - which team doesn't have a handful of $500,000 - $1,000,000 guys making up the 4th line?
 
They actually have 12 signed at that $55,000,000 plus Fleury and Zatkoff.  7 forwards. 5 defencemen.
 
So we need 2 defencemen and 6 forwards - give or take. $2,500,000 per player.
 
I think they bring back Vitale - let's say $750,000 (a raise).
 
Sutter and Depres are RFA. Sutter's qualifying offer is $2,700,000. Depres is $850,500.
 
Plug those numbers in and we are at $59,400,000. $11,600,000 left for 4 forwards and a 7th defenceman (or Niskanen which makes Bortuzzo your 7th defenceman).
 
$6,000,000 per fair for Niskanen? I think so.
 
So $5,600,000 left for 4 forwards. 2 3rd line wingers and 2 4th liners.  Think that can be had?
 
There is flexibility there - do they let Niskanen walk and see if a Harrington or a Pouliot or a Dumoulin can win a spot? Then use that $6,000,000 on that ever so needy winger for Crosby and Malkin? Or do they use that $6,000,000 to add some Bruin-like depth/grit/character to the 3rd or 4th lines?
 
And what if they can move a player like a Scuderi?
 
My point is that their cap situation is not at all dire even with having a small # of players take up a large chunk of cap space.

 

Thanks for clarifying. I was just doing an at a glance cap / roster. 

 

Re: Niskanen, I think 6m is as bit steep. Yet he is evidently a late bloomer and UFA. I really like him and could see him in O&B. But i am hesitant on a one year wonder in a pay dirt contract year.

 

You break the numbers down well (and I am ignorant to most of it- or at least to lazy to provide anything of substance in a reply).

 

At the end of the day, if I was king of the world, I would move either Malkin or Crosby. Crosby would be my option one because of his high marketability plus his concussion history.

 

I guess it kind of comes down to cyclical things. Do you want your team to suck for 4 years and get top draft picks or do you want your team to compete every year?

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@Vanflyer

 

I created a spreadsheet with all the information from Cap Geek. When trades or off season signings are the topic it makes it real easy to plug in a player and/or salary to see the impact on a team's cap. ;)

 

What happens with Niskanen will be interesting. Is $6,000,000 to much for a 27 year old who led all defencemen in +/- while chipping in 10 goals and 46 points? My guess is someone will be willing to give him that.  Your boys set the market giving MacDonald $5,000,000 per year for 6 years.

 

If Shero can resign him for that much or just over $5,000,000 per year he'll be.......average. :ph34r:  ;)

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I give Crosby credit, until the spear in the last game he has not retalliated to this stuff, I think he was waiting for one of his teammates to step in, because you don't want Crosby in the box.

 

Great post. 

 

My one rebuttal would be don't give Crosby a pass here because he does not have protection, etc. The best player in the world should be the best player in the world at this time of the year. 

 

Yet, he is not. I do think he is injured (concussed). There are 21 players ahead of him that have produced better than him. None of them have a guy named McSorely on their team. I am starting to think that while an enormous talent, Crosby is not clutch (not withstanding the OT winner in the Olympics). I mean really, when has he ever put his team on his back in the playoffs??? Malkin on the other hand has. 

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Great post.

My one rebuttal would be don't give Crosby a pass here because he does not have protection, etc. The best player in the world should be the best player in the world at this time of the year.

Yet, he is not. I do think he is injured (concussed). There are 21 players ahead of him that have produced better than him. None of them have a guy named McSorely on their team. I am starting to think that while an enormous talent, Crosby is not clutch (not withstanding the OT winner in the Olympics). I mean really, when has he ever put his team on his back in the playoffs??? Malkin on the other hand has.

Actually Crosby had one of the top PPG in history till last year against the Bruins. He's carried the team plenty. Now? I don't know what's going on. I've never seen him lose the handle on the puck like he has been. And I noticed it the last few games of the regular season.

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Fair points.  To which I will counter - which team doesn't have a handful of $500,000 - $1,000,000 guys making up the 4th line?

 

They actually have 12 signed at that $55,000,000 plus Fleury and Zatkoff.  7 forwards. 5 defencemen.

 

So we need 2 defencemen and 6 forwards - give or take. $2,500,000 per player.

 

I think they bring back Vitale - let's say $750,000 (a raise).

 

Sutter and Depres are RFA. Sutter's qualifying offer is $2,700,000. Depres is $850,500.

 

Plug those numbers in and we are at $59,400,000. $11,600,000 left for 4 forwards and a 7th defenceman (or Niskanen which makes Bortuzzo your 7th defenceman).

 

$6,000,000 per fair for Niskanen? I think so.

 

So $5,600,000 left for 4 forwards. 2 3rd line wingers and 2 4th liners.  Think that can be had?

 

There is flexibility there - do they let Niskanen walk and see if a Harrington or a Pouliot or a Dumoulin can win a spot? Then use that $6,000,000 on that ever so needy winger for Crosby and Malkin? Or do they use that $6,000,000 to add some Bruin-like depth/grit/character to the 3rd or 4th lines?

 

And what if they can move a player like a Scuderi?

 

My point is that their cap situation is not at all dire even with having a small # of players take up a large chunk of cap space.

Would a Malkin for Shea Weber be a trade for Shero to consider if Nashville was willing. Nashville needs a number one scoring centre and Pittsburgh could use a stud on defense. Just a thought.

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Would a Malkin for Shea Weber be a trade for Shero to consider if Nashville was willing. Nashville needs a number one scoring centre and Pittsburgh could use a stud on defense. Just a thought.

 

But then who would the Flyers faithful pine for?   LOL   Seriously though, I doubt it will happen.  I'm not so sure I would want it to to be honest.   

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