The day Ray Shero traded for Jarome Iginla, Trib’s website published a video following Rob Rossi as he reported the trade. It’s a cool video to watch, and Geno and Neal are their crazy selves about halfway through. You can see the video here.
While most people who watch this video watch for the scene with Geno and Neal, there is something Rossi says at the beginning of the video that got my attention a month ago when the video came out, and is coming back to haunt the team now in the playoffs. At 42 seconds in, Rob is asked how much pressure the move puts on Bylsma. Rossi responds that it puts pressure on everyone and that they better get it done, or at least make it out of the first round. As much as I usually do not agree with Rob Rossi, I couldn’t agree more with this statement. You couldn’t have asked for better moves by Shero before and at the trade deadline. Every piece of the puzzle is there to make a successful Stanley Cup run. This could have been said at the end of last year’s regular season too, and we only got better since then by adding veteran leadership. However, once again, the Pens are not playing up to their capabilities in the playoffs.
Here’s where the controversy comes in. First, let me say that I’m a fan of Dan Bylsma. I think he’s a great guy, and the players love him. However, this is the second year in a row that he has not prepared his team for the playoffs. He hasn’t been able to come through in big games, and he obviously can’t handle the pressure. I know he won the Stanley Cup after coming in half way through the season in 08-09, but the thing that people forget to realize is that when the Pens won the Cup we were still playing partially under Therrien’s system. In the following years, once we switched over to Dan’s system, we’ve only won one playoff series. For a team as talented as the Pens, this is just unacceptable.
So the question is, if the Pens lose this series to the Islanders (which I DON’T think is going to happen, by the way) should Bylsma be fired? As much as I hate to say it, the answer is yes. I’m not one to just rashly throw coaches under the bus when the team plays poorly, but this series is beginning to look more and more like the Philly series from last year. It’s proof that Bylsma has not made a proper adjustment. Last year’s playoff loss was bad enough, but as a coach you CANNOT, under any circumstance, let that happen again. And we’re watching it happen right now. Luckily for the Pens, the Isles aren’t even close to the team the Flyers had last year and the Pens are taking advantage of that. The Islanders’ lack if defense, goaltending, and penalty killing have resulted in it being a tied series.
I honestly believe the Pens will rebound from these three bad games. We have too much skill and leadership not too. But if we don’t, I believe that’s on the coach. We haven’t seen an adjustment from last year’s playoffs and we have yet to see adjustments being made between the past few bad games.