In a move that is sure to perplex thousands around Pittsburgh, Ray Shero’s highly secretive end of year press conference was a reaffirmation for HCDB and for what is even slightly confusing to me, his staff.
Bylsma as well as defense coach Todd Reirden and offense coach Tony Granato have all been extended for another two years past next season. It really comes down to this: if Bylsma’s best claim to fame was to take the talent of the Pens and “open the spigot” on the offense, while still maintaining the rigid structure of the defense that Therrien had in place, imagine what he could do with the defensive talent of the New York Rangers, who happen to still be looking for a new head coach, and who have a modicum (although not what the Pens have) of offensive talent.
Of course goaltender coach Gilles Meloche was not also extended, according to Renaud Lavoie the decision was entirely mutual and expected. Meloche has been with the team for more than thirty years, he’ll go back to scouting as a final, golden, swan song type assignment.
This is a smart move by Ray Shero, with pressure building on Bylsma and his staff entering what could have been a “lame duck” season, the media and social criticism likely would have been more than anyone could bear. By extending Bylsma the Penguins have clearly made their own statement on what they think of Bylsma and what they plan to do moving forward with him as coach. That *SHOULD* limit the argument as we move forward into next year and hopefully next postseason. But who knows.
We are somewhat surprised that Todd Reirden was given the same treatment. If one of Bylsma’s hand-picked assistants was going to be fired this year, to set a tone or whatever the case may be, you have to figure it would be Reirden. Maybe it’s not fair: there have been different guys who have coached the defense under Bylsma and except for 2009 no one has had much luck, and that seems to be more an indictment of the organizational belief in high-powered offense, or coaching ideology, than it does in defensive coaching. But nonetheless, the results for Reirden are far less spectacular than Byslma or Tony Granato with his vaunted special teams prowess. But then again, this is a message of stability from upper management, and we’re genuinely pleased.
Again just think about what it would be like to play against a Dan Bylsma-coached team, it would be a pain in the ass. This is the right call, although you have to wonder how much longer of a leash the current regime will be given.
In the mainstream media everyone has already decided on their scapegoat, Dan Bylsma, and at least in their arguments they seem to have plenty of good cause: 4 years of elimination at the hands of a lower-seeded opponent, the first Penguins coach to be swept in the playoffs in 34 years, a losing record in the postseason since his historic 2009 Cup win. But they are decidedly wrong. If you had wanted to pick this fight with me last year or the previous two years I wouldn’t have argued, but the problem against Boston was not a failure of coaching, it was a failure of the players to listen, or to CARE to execute. And that’s all fine and dandy, but if you ask me, you have to go up another level to find the culprit behind this collapse.
Yes, in fact, I am talking about Ray Shero. The architect of the most talent laden roster since the inception of the salary cap is the guy that I think is most culpable for this team’s collapse in the Eastern Conference Finals (if you can ever collapse in the Eastern Conference Finals, even if you’re swept and get outscored 12-2, I mean you’re still one of the four best teams in the league right?). And here’s why: he overspent his hand. Now, here us out, we’re not going to pretend that Shero should be fired, and we’re definitely not saying that he hasn’t made some amazing moves: just think about where the Pens would have been if he hadn’t made a move on the “washed up” Tomas Vokoun. But when it comes right down to it, answer yourself this, did his deadline moves work? If you answer yes you must be a Bruins fan. Get the explanation after the jump. Read the rest of this entry »
As what should come as absolutely no surprise to anyone who has ever heard of hockey, Ray Shero has been named one of the finalists for the GM of the Year Award. All he did in the last 12 months was trade a 7th round pick for Tomas Vokoun, sign Sidney Crosby for life, turn Jordan Staal into Brandon Sutter, Brian Dumolin, and Derrick Pouliot, rescue Mark Eaton from early retirement, trade for Brenden Morrow, Douglas Murray, Jussi Jokinen, and Jarome Iginla, and Beau Bennett and Simon Despres have erased any doubts people have held about Shero’s scouting and drafting ability.
When looking at the intangibles between the Penguins and the Senators you have to look at the coaches: both Dan Bylsma and Paul MacLean are systems coaches and while Bylsma has already won a Jack Adams for coaching his team to an impressive record despite the absence of his two biggest stars, MacLean seems to be the frontrunner for the award this year after playing large chunks of the season without Erik Karlsson, Jason Spezza, and Craig Anderson (his three best players). With that said, I can’t honestly claim to know anything about MacLean. I can’t imagine that he’s that different from Bylsma so we’ll chalk this up as a draw. Whatever, nobody ever cares about the coaches unless they are looking for someone to blame other than the players.
Forwards: If the Senators hold a slight advantage between their defense and goaltending over the Penguins, as we have said they do, they quickly give it all right back to the Pens when you match up forwards. I don’t think we need to go into detail about this, you know who plays forward for the Pittsburgh Penguins, and along that same line of thought you probably can’t name hardly any forward on the Senators. The Senators have some skill, and most importantly they have a lot of grit that could prove problematic if the Penguins aren’t able to play the puck more effectively in their defensive zone. But they aren’t all that good. The nearly-fossilized Daniel Alfredsson produced 6 points in the first round, good for a share of the lead along with defenseman Erik Karlsson. Nobody else had more than 5 for the Sens (for some comparison the Pens have 7 players who have at least five points already). Despite the lack of top end talent the Sens managed 20 goals in 5 games, the second most in the first round in the East behind only the Pens (25 in 6 games) including two 6 goal explosions.
The only question for the Penguins is, will they be able to beat Craig Anderson? We certainly don’t expect them to average over 4 goals per game, but if we’ve learned anything, they’ll capitalize when they can. But what if they struggle? Coming out of the gate we expect no changes in the Pens’ 12 forwards (from Games 5 & 6). But you also have to wonder how much longer of a leash some guys, namely Brenden Morrow (who only got noticed when he took stupid penalties), and despite his faceoffs and wheels Joe Vitale, will get. With former 30 goal scorer Jussi Jokinen and future stud Beau Bennett waiting in the wings it doesn’t seem impossible that the Pens could have a totally different complexion at forward in this series.
Bottom line: The Pens invested everything in offense, and so far it’s worked, keep it going and the series should come to the Penguins.
The Penguins are coming off another undefeated week of hockey with back to back wins over the teams with the second and third best records in the Eastern Conference. They’re still doing it without the two best players on the planet, an elite goal scorer, and one of the most underrated defensemen in the league this year. In doing so they locked up the top seed in the East with more than 10% of their games still remaining.
There’s a lot of acclaim that can go around but most of the biggest contributors continued to be the new guys that we featured last week: Brenden Morrow stepped up with an awesome Gordie Howe Hat Trick against the Habs and Jarome Iginla silenced the boo birds in Boston with a lethal PP goal. Beyond that the “New JJ” chipped in on all 3 goals against the Bruins and Tomas Vokoun showed just how good he could be with 38 10-bell saves in the same effort. But our rules are clear, no back to back winners, so let’s look at who else has been taking care of business.