Sunday, June 9, 2013


Dan Bylsma is telling the media that M.A. Fleury is a franchise, #1 goalie... "our franchise's goalie".  I assume he's talking about the Penguins, which is and should be shocking.   Dan is a little lacking in credibility these days, for one.  As for Fleury, it's really rich to suggest anything except departure.  More on that later.

Is Dan Bylsma so good at some intangible aspect of coaching that incompetent strategy, bad starts, and suspect lineups are secondary?

Dan should have been relieved of his duties during the Islanders series (after game 3) and especially after being swept by a team that was a relatively large underdog.  The series losses under Bylsma, including two very recently which involved complete and total systemic collapse, are the result of the absence of the most simple core tactical strategies.  That is, in part, why it seems like Pittsburgh 'discovers' a new elite goalie every spring.  Setting a screen, for instance, never happened.  Then again, you have to have possession in the offensive zone for several seconds to set and make use of a screen, which Pittsburgh did not.  Let's just say, then, for the sake of exploration that Dan was putting simple tactics to use.  What if he sought to use a trap-breaking tactic like the hard-around to create offensive pressure and use shots from the point through a screen to try to generate second-chance opportunities.  Why weren't the players on board?  0 of 4 lines and 0 of 2 power play units.

The players are either respecting and carrying out the coach's inadequate strategy and as a result lost to a lower seed 4 seasons in a row, or, the players are wildly deviating from the coach's sensible strategy and lost to a lower seed 4 seasons in a row.  At all events, the coach should be extirpated, full stop.

That's why a team like the NY Islanders, composed of waiver pick-ups and marginally overachieved to finish .500 and in 8th spot in the East, gave the Penguins a true scare and would have lost if not for Tomas Vokoun coming to the rescue.  That is what the Dan Bylsma Penguins are; a team that comes out and loses to the 8th seed because they can implement and execute a simple wing lock and counterattack.

"Man, Roloson just played really well."  "Halak was the difference."  "Rask was playing out of his mind."  Why isn't Pittsburgh getting that kind of goaltending?  And why can't they? Why isn't Voloun, who is still under contract, the starter?  Why are we settling?  Marc Andre Fleury was picked first overall, put his time in at the minor league level, and was developed in a way that allowed him to grow up with a young team and learn how to win.  He's been to the Cup finals twice, has won the Stanley Cup, and earned gold at the Vancouver Olympics.

Fleury is 28 with a long term contract; he's highly seasoned and in the thick of his prime.  Why then is he putting up a .881 save percentage and something like a 3.15 GAA in the post-Stanley Cup playoffs?  Why is he so good at broadcasting to the other team that he's rattled?  The vulnerability is overwhelming.  There just really is not enough composure or competitive drive to keep his job, as we plainly saw last week.

Saying that your franchise is in a good position going forward with that as your goalie is saying that however good the defense and forwards are, there is a trap door.  Also, that statement is coming from an often over matched coach.  Bylsma coaching : a car that does not go in reverse.  Bylsma's tactics weren't worthy of the Islanders.  Boston?  His Penguins allowed a goal in the opening minute in 2 of 4 games.  His Penguins never lead the Bruins, ever.  Bad lines, disjointed play, and relying on the backup goalie points to what the painfully obvious series of changes need to be.  Go 2014 Pens.

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