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Yes, this could be a ‘franchise-defining game’ for the Penguins

May 13, 2014, 4:35 PM EDT

crosbybehindbylsma AP

“Dan, there’s been talk about this game being a franchise-defining game. Do you think about that at all?”

That was one of the questions Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma got this morning ahead of his Penguins’ Game 7 versus the New York Rangers.

Predictably, Bylsma said he doesn’t think about it — “Not really, no I don’t” — and that he’s not looking at a “bigger picture” than simply a game to advance to the conference finals.

And that may be true for him, since it’s important to stay focused on the task at hand, not the possible ramifications, which Bylsma can’t control anyway.

But make no mistake, this could be a franchise-defining game for the Penguins, because Game 7’s have a way of being exactly that.

Consider: What if the Bruins had lost Game 7 to the Canadiens in 2011. Instead of winning in overtime and going on to hoist their first Stanley Cup since 1972, it’s likely coach Claude Julien would’ve been fired. Remember, the B’s were only a year removed from choking on a 3-0 lead versus the Flyers.

And what if Washington had won Game 7 versus Montreal in 2010? Instead of a devastating first-round exit that made the Capitals rethink the run-and-gun style that made them the most exciting team in the NHL, maybe they’d have runned and gunned their way to a championship that year. We’ll never know, will we. But that was a good team. Not so much anymore.

Now imagine if the Maple Leafs hadn’t blown Game 7 versus the Bruins last year. And if the Canucks had won Game 7 versus the Bruins in 2011. Talk about franchise-defining games for Toronto and Vancouver, the latter of which is still dealing with the ramifications three years later.

Granted, it’s possible the Penguins win tonight and flame out in the conference finals, just like they did last year. In that case, tonight’s game will be a footnote.

But if they win and go on to the Cup Final?

Defining game.

Or a loss followed by the firing of Bylsma, which surely wouldn’t be the only big change?

Definitely a defining game.

“You’ve got to enjoy this moment,” said Bylsma. “This is what we all play for.

“You’ve got to get excited about it. It’s not just the overbearing, overriding sense that a bounce here, or a missed play here, or whatever, is going to decide this game. You’ve got to enjoy it, got to get ready for this. Again, this is what you all play for.

“You don’t remember Game 51. We’re going to all remember this Game 7.”

  1. dsume001 - May 13, 2014 at 4:44 PM

    Their loss may be the Caps win. Danny B for coach?

    • joey4id - May 13, 2014 at 8:46 PM

      Why? He’s sucking in Pit.

  2. sumkat - May 13, 2014 at 4:45 PM

    Only memorable of the Rangers win. If the Pens win, it’s just a good effort at a comeback that fell short. No big deal

  3. statsdolie - May 13, 2014 at 4:50 PM

    At some point it has to be a franchise defining moment yes they won the cup five years ago but have only been to the conference finals once since and no other cup appearances. All of this mind you with arguably the top two players in the world.

  4. hosewater2 - May 13, 2014 at 4:56 PM

    Yes, this is franchise-defining. If they lose the team is moving to Portland.

    Just throwing another bit of craziness out there to go along with trading Malkin if they lose.

  5. steelcity333 - May 13, 2014 at 4:57 PM

    Everything pointing towards the Penguins getting shut out tonight. Lundqvist is on a roll while the Penguins seem like they just want to play catch with the puck. This is why I wanted to play Philly instead, didn’t want to have to get into a one game situation with Lundqvist on the other end. Another disappointing end to an otherwise great season. I don’t know what has to be changed but something has to.

    • billiam55 - May 13, 2014 at 5:06 PM

      dude……..game hasnt even started and ur making these predictions?

      • steelcity333 - May 13, 2014 at 5:15 PM

        Yes. That’s why it’s called a “prediction”.

    • hosewater2 - May 13, 2014 at 5:11 PM

      If Vigneault gets this Rangers roster to the ECF he is your Jack Adams winner. Yes I know he wasn’t nominated.

      • orangandblack - May 13, 2014 at 5:37 PM

        This comment makes no sense, the Rangers roster is loaded with talent.

      • 19to77 - May 13, 2014 at 5:59 PM

        Except for the part where the award doesn’t factor playoff performance into consideration, sure. Oh, and also the part where they’ve already announced the three finalists and Vigneault wasn’t one of them. That seems like a bit of a wrinkle in your bold prediction. But hey, you can dream.

      • avscup - May 13, 2014 at 7:10 PM

        Kinda hard since it has already been decided based on the regular season. You know 82 games!

    • billiam55 - May 13, 2014 at 6:00 PM

      wow okay smart ass. btw ur one lousy ass pens fan.

      • steelcity333 - May 13, 2014 at 6:33 PM

        Why? Because I have a bad feeling about tonight’s game? All I heard all year from other Penguins fans was how this team wasn’t going to get out of the first round. Now everyone thinks you’ll march on to the Stanley Cup. Give me a break douche.

  6. bigtganks - May 13, 2014 at 5:02 PM

    Please Linden don’t hire Bylsma when he gets canned. If he can’t take THAT squad to multiple cups, he’ll do no better than Torts at taking the old core and inexperienced goaltending anywhere.

  7. joey4id - May 13, 2014 at 5:05 PM

    Nah! I don’t think so. c9, what do you think?

  8. penguins87and71 - May 13, 2014 at 5:12 PM

    This has to be a franchise changer, if the Penguins lose. It’s been half a decade since the Penguins have last won the Cup. If the Penguins blow this series after being up 3-1, then the whole organization needs to be reevaluated from top to bottom.

    • elmerbrownelmerbrown - May 13, 2014 at 5:33 PM

      Half a decade poor your ,,your trying to make it sound longer than 1975 ! That being said Baldsma will do a stupid matchup at some point tonight he always does ! LETS GO RANGERS

      • President Charles Logan - May 13, 2014 at 5:46 PM

        elmer good job cutting the grass and weed whacking today , how many pesos do i owe you and your brother jose?

      • elmerbrownelmerbrown - May 13, 2014 at 5:56 PM

        Nothing your wife was bending over tending her garden while I was mowing her lawn she took a break and served me a beautiful lunch

  9. snipedanglecelly13 - May 13, 2014 at 5:28 PM

    Go rangers! Not Cindy out of the playoffs

  10. snipedanglecelly13 - May 13, 2014 at 5:29 PM

    Auto correct….knock

  11. pitpenguinsrulez - May 13, 2014 at 6:12 PM

    I don’t know what to think for tonight’s game. I want the Penguins to win badly but it’s hard to pick em with our failures of Game 7s at home. I’m picking the Rangers to win 2-1 …BUT I hope I’m wrong around 10pm roughly. If we lose it should be open season on everybody after Sid and Malkin.

    • steelcity333 - May 13, 2014 at 6:35 PM

      Apparently if you have a bad feeling about tonight’s game it makes you a lousy Penguins fan. At least that’s what I’ve been told.

  12. csilojohnson - May 13, 2014 at 6:18 PM

    Nice list of what-ifs.
    To bad thats all it is. Oh and a waste of time. Just like this comment.

  13. csilojohnson - May 13, 2014 at 6:36 PM

    If they lose I will blame you for betting against your own team in the playoffs. Hell according to steelcity they dont even need to play the game. Just pack it up and gut the whole team…
    I dont see Bylsma getting fired this year. Win or lose. 3rd most points in franchise history with historic man games lost..
    Sure he deserves critisism. Just as every coach has short comings. (except Babcock…)
    Coaching change would set the whole organization back a couple years.
    I see this as a career defining game for Fleury. I also see a lot of young faces on the blueline next year, win or lose. More so for the latter.

    • steelcity333 - May 13, 2014 at 7:08 PM

      Yeah that’s why they’ll lose. Jesus I just have a bad feeling about it. Give me a break. I’m sure you were calling for everyone’s head back in March.

  14. 7mantel - May 13, 2014 at 7:05 PM

    Well it’s game time all the BS IS OUT THE WINDOW ! Let’s Go NYR’s

  15. lp0320 - May 13, 2014 at 7:12 PM

    Game time – let’s keep our fingers crossed that the talent this Penguins team has shows up. There’s no reason why they haven’t dominated this team , except for King Henrik.

    Let’s go Pens.

  16. gbart22 - May 13, 2014 at 7:22 PM

    Makes you wonder why people over react to certain games and forget the larger picture. If you’re that quick to make changes then clearly you already don’t believe in what you have assembled therefore it’s already fundamentally flawed. If you’re a confident gm then you don’t just make changes for the sake of changes and potentially destroy what you have by over reacting. You either believe in your team or you don’t.

    Usually when a team over reacts it never works out. See Vancouver, Washington for recent examples

  17. joerevs300 - May 13, 2014 at 7:46 PM

    Well they are down 1-0 already so there’s that…

    Look. This team, no matter how you slice it, has 2 of the top 5 players in the NHL who actually skate on the ice (not goaltenders).

    And yet, even though they’ve played NINE SERIES IN A ROW AS THE HIGHER SEED, they’ve managed to overachieve to the point where they make the San Diego Chargers last decade look like the freaking Patriots.

    You can put this on BOTH Ray Shero and Dan Bylsma if they lose this series, and both of them need to be kicked to the freaking curb.

    I can’t think of two people that could manage to waste so much talent and such a wide open window of opportunity that does not come often. (Indeed, the Pens were irrelevant prior to Super Mario/Jagr, and went back to being irrelevant again until Sid the Kid came).

    If this window slams shut, they have to go. Bylsma is one of the worst in-game adjusters as a coach I have ever seen in the NHL, given the level of talent he possesses.

    He, to borrow the words of Abraham Lincoln talking about his general “Fighting Joe Hooker”, “LOOKS LIKE A DUCK WHO GOT HIT ON THE HEAD”.

  18. gbart22 - May 13, 2014 at 8:01 PM

    Or you could just keep them since your team is a perennial top of the conference team and make some minor tweaks maybe one big move. Go acquire someone like weber, phaneuf maybe move letang out and move fleury out and replace him with a guy like miller and see what happens. I’ve always felt Kunitz and dupuis while nice players are made a lot better by playing with Crosby and Malkin maybe you change them out for some new maybe slightly younger players. You can reshape things without blowing things up

  19. Florio's Lawyer - May 13, 2014 at 10:03 PM

    ..g’bye Dan…

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