On the verge of a 4th straight disappointing playoff run and being down 3-0 in a series for the second straight year, something that is unacceptable for a team as talented as the Penguins, the job security of Dan Bylsma is suddenly becoming a hot topic and will until GM Ray Shero makes it clear after the season that Bylsma is returning or not. The Tribune-Review is all over it this morning with headlines such as “Dan’s Last Stand?”
I’ll believe it when I see it that Shero has it in him to fire Bylsma whom he strongly believes in, and with Penguins still playing, I don’t really want to get into Bylsma’s future until immediately after the series, but we all know the issues that must be evaluated at seasons end from team structure, players not being defensively responsible enough (and whether another coach can change that) and one of the biggest things when evaluating this coaching staff and the team at seasons end is management and ownership looking for answers at one bad trend that continues for the Penguins and that’s imploding in playoff games that they never recover from. Regardless of the outcome of this series, I feel management needs to decide whether that falls on the coaching staff or how this team is built.
Something is obviously wrong:
2011 Playoffs vs Tampa Bay Lightning, First Round: Entering Game 5 Penguins lead series 3-1, go on to lose 8-2 in Game 5 on home ice. They never recover losing Game 6 in Tampa Bay 4-2 and then lose Game 7 on home ice. Losing Game 5 the way the Penguins did in a close out situation is just unacceptable, despite the fact there was no Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby
2012 Playoffs vs Philadelphia Flyers, First Round: Penguins trail 2-0 in the series and in a must-win situation in Game 3, the Penguins implode being trounced 8-4 by the Flyers who take a commanding 3-0 series. It was an embarrassing game for the Penguins in a lot of areas and while Pittsburgh responded with two straight wins, the series is remembered for the Penguins blowing a 3-0 lead in Game 1 and imploding in Game 3.
2013 Playoffs vs Boston Bruins, Round 3: What has done the Penguins in this time around wasn’t a devastating 2-1 double overtime loss in Game 3. It was Pittsburgh’s 6-1 loss in Game 2, a game the Bruins dominated in every facet from the drop of the puck. Pittsburgh’s strong effort in Game 3 means nothing as losing the way the Penguins did the first two games left Pittsburgh no room for error against a Stanley Cup caliber team in the Boston Bruins. Yet again, the trend of getting blown out in a critical game that put Pittsburgh in a huge hole has continued this post-season but just a few rounds later this time around.