In preparing for a short schedule, Penguins have done their homework on 1995 shortened season

A 48 game season is uncharted waters for the players and even the coaching staff, and despite the 1995 lockout shortened season of 48 games being 17 years ago, it’s something head coach Dan Bylsma is looking back on.
“Yes, there’s a lot to that of what we looked at, Bylsma said when asked at today’s press conference if he’s looked backed at the 95 season. “Training camps, starts, how they used their goaltenders {in 1995 season}. We’ve looked at how many players were used in a 48 game schedule vs full schedule, what that meant to injuries, callups. Looked at some things that we will apply to what we’re doing. We’ve looked at training camps from a number of teams. Done of lot things, got a lot of stats, and scenarios.”
When doing his homework on the 1995 season, Bylsma doesn’t have to go far as some valuable personnel members in organization were a part of that season, including Bill Guerin who played for the Stanley Cup champions New Jersey Devils in 1995. Former Penguins coach and advisor Eddie Johnston is also just a ring away and is still around the team at times, although he no longer works for the team. Johnston coached the Penguins during the 1995 shortened season and led them to the playoffs.
EMPHASIS OF AVOIDING A MINI OR LONG LOSING STREAK
Around the 45-50 game mark during the course of an NHL season, there will be a handful of fluke teams still in playoff contention who will then finally phase out as the season drags on. That figures to have things bunched up for the final one or two playoff spots and with a 48 game season, every game is going to mean a ton towards earning a playoff spot. “We’ve heard stories about it and how every game is a playoff game,” defenseman Brooks Orpik said. “ You can’t afford to go on a mini losing streak.”
Looking back at the 1995 shortened lockout season, the playoff field was nearly the same from the 1994 playoffs as 14 of the 16 playoff teams from 1993-1994 season, made the playoffs again in 1995.
That season the Quebec Nordiques (30-13-5) led the Eastern Conference with 65 points and the Detroit Red Wings (33-11-4) led the Western Conference with 70 points. The New York Rangers (22-23-3) were the 8th seed in the East with 47 points (won Stanley Cup in 1994) and the San Jose Sharks (19-25-4) were the 8th seed in the West with 42 points. 20 of the 26 teams had at least 40 or more points in 1995.
In a year the Penguins played without Mario Lemieux who sat out the season, the Penguins were the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference with 61 points and lost in the second round to the New Jersey Devils in 5 games who went on to win the Stanley Cup.
A key to earning a playoff spot will be coming out of the gates strong, which the Penguins did in 1995 when they started the season 12-0-1.
BLUELINE NOTES
*Scott Burnside of ESPN named Marc Andre Fleury among 10 players this season with “Major Expectations”. Burnside writes, “ Between 2008 and 2009, Fleury went 30-14 in the postseason as the Penguins went to back-to-back finals and won the Cup in their second try. He was sensational — not to put too fine a point on it. We even argued he deserved a shot at the starting job for the Canadian Olympic team in Vancouver (he was the third goalie and never played). But last spring marked a giant setback for the former No. 1 overall draft pick. Fleury looked out of sorts and tentative as the Penguins were dropped in six games by Philadelphia in a series that saw Fleury allow a whopping 26 goals. Fleury has been prone to stretches where his confidence seems in question — the start of the 2010-11 season, for instance — so his psyche to start this season will be telling in terms of putting last spring’s disaster behind him.”
*A player who should have got honorable mention on Burnside’s list is Penguins defenseman Paul Martin who is entering a critical year in the organization. Will he rebound to be the player he was in New Jersey?. “He‘s embarrassed by the year he had. He‘s promised to be the player we know he is, but it‘s up to Paul to bounce back,” Pens GM Ray Shero told Rob Rossi of the Tribune-Review.

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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