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Murky offseason awaits Bylsma, Penguins

May 14, 2014, 12:32 AM EDT

Dan Bylsma Getty Images

PITTSBURGH – If tonight’s Game 7 loss by the Pittsburgh Penguins was the the final game for some in the organization, it’s one that will ultimately be capitalized by frustration.

The Penguins fell to the New York Rangers 2-1 to end their season at the hands of a lower-seeded team. In the five seasons since they won the Stanley Cup, they’ve lost to a team in the playoffs they were supposed to beat.

After five straight disappointing performances, coach Dan Bylsma may find his job in jeopardy. The same could also be said of Penguins General Manager Ray Shero. With the lack of a deft touch with the lineup both behind the bench and in the front office, owner Mario Lemieux may be forced to change things up.

“Our goal, our ultimate goal, is to win the Stanley Cup and we haven’t done that in five seasons,” Bylsma said. “I’m 20 minutes post battling for a Game 7 and right to the bitter end. I haven’t contemplated the price that it’s going to be or anything towards the future yet.”

The Penguins might be able to avoid thinking about the future tonight, but with the offseason suddenly upon the organization, change may be on the way.

“I think there’s always questions,” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “When the expectations are high and you don’t win I think that’s normal. I’m sure there’ll be a lot of questions.”

The reason why the Penguins have to face so many questions right away was Henrik Lundqvist.

All throughout the seven-game series, King Henrik was at his best as he put up a .940 save percentage and allowed three total goals in the final three games against the Penguins.

“Tonight was one of our better games,” Crosby said. “We worked hard and generated some good chances.”

POLL: Should the Penguins fire Dan Bylsma?

The chances were there, but Lundqvist saved some of his best for the end of the game making 13 saves in the third period en route to 35 saves overall.

“He made some big saves,” Crosby said. “We were pressing late and for a good five minutes late in the third, we had some great chances. It’s a game, but we put ourselves in that position.”

While Lundqvist was the road block this year, the continued disappointment of the offense is what has hurt Pittsburgh the most. Last season, Tuukka Rask and the Boston Bruins stifled the Penguins holding them to two goals in a four-game sweep.

“When you lose a game and you’re not able to generate enough to score, it’s always going to be the case [for why we lost],” Bylsma said. “We had enough to go up 3-1 in the series and win three games in a row. We weren’t able to get enough in [Games] 5, 6 and we weren’t able to get enough tonight to win the game in terms of getting goals.

“They’re tough to come by, it’s tougher around the cage – we saw that. We weren’t able to get the goals we needed to win the game.”

Finding a way to break through tough defense and all-world goaltending is the job of a coach and to drive that through to the players. After being stifled by Lundqvist, Rask, Jaroslav Halak and Dwayne Roloson in the past, Penguins brass may find their solution lies with new personnel on and off the ice.

  1. dagrit5 - May 14, 2014 at 12:40 AM

    [Vince McMahon Voice] “YERRR FYYYYRRRRRRRRRRD”

  2. bilbono - May 14, 2014 at 12:49 AM

    “… our ultimate goal, is to win the Stanley Cup…”

    Fans and players are upset, but you know, every team has that goal, but only one makes it a reality. There’s still pride in a team making it to the final four, even the final eight contenders. It doesn’t necessarily make a team worth blowing up.

    • miketoasty - May 14, 2014 at 4:14 AM

      You’re right, but losing to a lower seeded team every year since winning the cup is.

      • jimthebear - May 14, 2014 at 11:17 AM

        No offense, but caring about the seeding by the 2nd round is what’s wrong it Pitt. Too much concern with stats, and not enough with hockey.

      • c9castine - May 14, 2014 at 1:03 PM

        no no jim. dont miss the point of what he is saying. and thats BS. there is no concern with stats here only in winning and thats why everybody in Pittsburgh is so POed right now.

        let me cut it down to size for you. underachieving for 5 straight years for any team at any level wether it be missing the playoffs or getting bounced by inferior opponents or simply losing in the first round or what have you – thats what this is about. under achieving on a consistent basis and even at that, having lost 3 series in 5 years after being up 3-1 and losing all of those game 7s at home.

    • hockey412 - May 14, 2014 at 8:32 AM

      That’s very true – and they didn’t play bad for much of the series. However I think the biggest concern is the eye-test – at certain times the team looks unprepared to play, undisciplined, and unwilling to work with each other.

      There are definitely some stars in this line-up, and I’m sure Dan’s job was not all that easy in dealing with all of them. Especially with Mario always around. But the things mentioned above have to be corrected – and the stars aren’t going anywhere. How do you correct them, then?

      I will say, my own two cents. Neal probably has trade value – if so, get rid of him. He’s shown that he’s a liability and can’t produce without Malkin. Replace him with Bennett and give Bennett time to succeed. The defense needs an overhaul, see if Neal can be moved for a solid Dman that isn’t afraid of contact. Get rid of the stick on puck mentality on Defense.

      In the end you are right – no shame in losing, NYR is a great club, AV is a great coach. Hell CBJ was a great club. But there ARE changes that need to be made, including coaching in my opinion – the clock is running.

  3. slysipops - May 14, 2014 at 1:01 AM

    CROSBY and BYLSMA both showed what they are made up of during the tape of the bench spat on NBCSN tonight. both attitudes are detrimental to a team ! but guess who’ll go and who will stay !

    • apkyletexas - May 14, 2014 at 7:31 AM

      Crosby claimed they played well for 5 minutes of the 3rd period and had good chances – I saw two good chances that took about 30 seconds.

      I don’t think a player should be proud of playing good for 5 minutes of the third period, or for a couple of good chances. Mostly, his team laid back and threw the puck down the ice. Most of Henrik’s 35 saves were weak slaps from a distance.

      • hockey412 - May 14, 2014 at 8:43 AM

        I don’t know about that – I thought they played well overall but had some lapses (like on Boyle’s goal) that NYR took advantage of. I know they were in Hank’s kitchen a bunch in the third. I can’t criticize Crosby’s wording there – what did you want him to say?

  4. earpaniac - May 14, 2014 at 1:05 AM

    Shero and Blysma should both be gone.

  5. tdrusher225 - May 14, 2014 at 1:07 AM

    Bylsma should be gone without hesitation. This is one instance where a team’s failure should be put on the shoulders of the head coach. The players certainly deserve criticism and blame, but a team with this lack of discipline, mental toughness, and team identity shows an inept job of bringing these ultra talented players together. We’ll see what kind of personnel decisions are made this offseason, but firing Bylsma should be step 1

    • jimthebear - May 14, 2014 at 11:19 AM

      Lack of discipline is on CROSBY’s shoulders. That’s why he’s a HORRIBLE captain. GREAT hockey player, HORRIBLE Captain. If you keep Crosby, you need to strip the C.

      • c9castine - May 14, 2014 at 1:05 PM

        bull. your just piling on. you have no idea what your talking about like way too many people here.

        nobody said chara was a horrible captain when boston collapsed against philly because nobody cares about chara.

        everybody wants to have something to say about crosby though and its painfully obvious everytime you come into one of these comment sections.

  6. chiadam - May 14, 2014 at 2:16 AM

    Toews > Crosby

    • hockey412 - May 14, 2014 at 8:44 AM

      My mom > your mom

  7. gbart22 - May 14, 2014 at 2:33 AM

    Here come all the over reactors calling for the building to be burnt to the ground. Good management sticks with what they believe in. Maybe you go after miller this offseason and make a change in goal. Would Pittsburgh and Washington consider being trading partners? One Russian for another? That would be interesting.

    Realistically people complain about the bottom six? Well that is what happens when you have a top heavy expensive top six and in their case top 2 and letang. You want more depth consider trading letang or Malkin for more depth. I’d consider changing out dupuis or Kunitz for forwards who are good and a little younger and you’d find trading partners for them. Also I’d keep bylsma for one more year make some changes and see how it goes. He’s been too good a coach for too long and he’d have a job tomorrow if you fired him tonight. Granted change is necessary sometimes but you don’t want to end up like Vancouver or Washington who also way over reacted to playoff losses and now they aren’t even the playoffs.

    • miketoasty - May 14, 2014 at 4:22 AM

      You do realize that Fleury was one of the best Penguins in the playoffs this year and put up some of his best numbers. I don’t know what you think Miller would do when this team combined for 3 goals in 3 games leading up to their demise.

      Bylsma has been a good coach? When was the last time the Pens won any significant game? He took the Pens to a cup with a roster that had discipline and structure then when it was his turn with new guys he failed pretty bad to implement any sort of accountability or structure to the team.

      This roster has flaws as well, thus the Shero talk. This team has no grit what so ever.

      Personally I’m tired of being manhandled by the Flyers and losing to inferior opponents in the playoffs every year but if you want to live in mediocrity then by all means keep Bylsma.

    • hockey412 - May 14, 2014 at 8:55 AM

      A couple of holes in your thoughts:

      1) (just an aside) – please for the love of all that is good and holy tell me you aren’t suggesting trading Malkin for Ovi.

      2) Letang’s salary hike doesn’t kick in until next year. They do need to spend the money on D more wisely, and signing Scuderi at 3M / year, for a bottom pairing Dman, doesn’t help.

      3) Did Fleury play bad enough to warrant a trade? I thought he did fine, and he’s a likeable figure on the team. He’s got another year. Miller is probably not looking to come to Pittsburgh, and did NOT play well in St. Louis. He’s also been a lockerroom distraction in the past. Why seek him out?

      4) Bylsma is a good man – but the problem (and the reason for the criticism) is that the real issue on the team is not being addressed, and it’s been his job to address it.

    • c9castine - May 14, 2014 at 1:11 PM

      the money has nothing to do with why the team is structured like that.

      drafting has way way more to do with it.

  8. gbart22 - May 14, 2014 at 2:35 AM

    Toews is not better than Crosby toews is surrounded by a better team outside of goalie. Fans are idiots.

    • moarjam - May 14, 2014 at 10:07 AM

      I would usually agree but I just don’t know anymore. If I’m building a team I don’t know if I pick Crosby over Toews. Theres no doubt Crosby is more skilled but there is something to be said for the intangibles and leadership Toews has. He is leader of men on top of being a straight up warrior. Sid’s game, while amazing, is sorely lacking in those important areas.

    • beergold - May 14, 2014 at 10:20 AM

      I’m with moarjam on this one…..I’ve been a long time fan of Crosby and his talents but right now it is hard to believe that he is “better” than Toews when the going gets tough and important. His juvenile antics did absolutely nothing to lead or inspire the rest of his team and his play although what many would call OK, was subpar for supposedly the best in the world.

    • jimthebear - May 14, 2014 at 11:22 AM

      I’m a BRUINS guy and I say Toews is better than Crosby, because he has the gut and the will, Crosby has skills and Whining. Strip the C. Give it to the best LEADER, not the best hockey player. Pittsburgh NEVER understood that, and still doesn’t. Only once in Mario was the best leader also the best player, coincidence. Skills don’t make a leader.

  9. gbart22 - May 14, 2014 at 4:58 AM

    I think you misunderstood when I spoke of making a change in goal. I wasn’t advocating for one just listing off things that could happen this offseason. Fleury will take a ton of blame again even though he did nothing necessarily wrong this post season and it wasn’t his fault. But one way to make a quick change with a team is to change the goalie which can change the whole complexion of a team for better or worse. Fleury is a good goalie he’ll go on to play well somewhere else. I only said miller because he is a free agent this offseason and he’s the best goalie on the market but it doesn’t have to be him I don’t think he necessarily does anything differently.

    You’re a fan of the penguins so you’re naturally reacting based off emotion. What exactly do you think another coach would have done differently? Does the coach score goals? He out them position to win he got them to the eastern finals last season in order to get there you win big games! Shocker! Your roster just needs some tweaking do that give bylsma another season see what happens if you fail again next season you can always change the coach. He’s been one of the best coaches in the game since he took over the penguins if you’re too blinded by emotion to recognize that that’s your loss. Washington made this mistake with Boudreau and where are they now? Vancouver with vineaugt and where are they? Where are Boudreau and Vineaugt (sp) now? Don’t be dumb. But by all means if you want to be dumb and over react as a fan of another team in the same division by all means please do over react :-)

    • miketoasty - May 14, 2014 at 8:23 AM

      First off I don’t think anyone who actually knows hockey will put any blame on Fleury. So that can get dropped right here. Again, one of his best playoffs and the only reason we won many games as we did.

      The coach could have actually had his team ready to play, the second they got out of the gate. Not just when it mattered with ten minutes to go in the third. He could have shaken up the lines instead of being complacent with two goals in two games before last night.

      The caps weren’t a better team with Boudrou. They had more success in the regular season, but still failed miserably in the playoffs. They are where they are now because of a bad GM who put together a bad team.

      Vancouver doesn’t have a goaltender. What did you expect them to do? Should have never traded Scnheider.

      Bylsma has had this team for how long now, since 2009 and since the cup name when big game he has won. I can think of two game sevens at home, two winter classics, an entire eastern conference finals. I mean come on open your eyes!

      No reason at point to not react accordingly and at least get rid of the coach. But hey, why not just keep wasting away Crosby and Malkins best years just waiting to see if Bylsma can learn how to coach.

  10. gbart22 - May 14, 2014 at 4:59 AM

    They lost in the second round they went to the eastern finals last season no toughness and grit at all can’t win big games. Give me a break.

  11. gbart22 - May 14, 2014 at 5:03 AM

    Funny I live in the New York area and when the penguins were up 3-1 all I heard on the local radio stations from rangers fans was how their team has no grit and toughness and lundquivst never stops up. If the rangers go on to lose in 5 in the next series I’ll hear the same things again. People over react to everything. Every fan of every team throws out the same used cliches about toughness and grit except for one team who wins it all but if they don’t repeat the next season they magically lost it. It’s all silly.

    • moarjam - May 14, 2014 at 10:15 AM

      They talk about the rangers on local NYC radio stations? Coulda fooled me. All I hear is Yankees/Mets this time of year.

  12. titalph - May 14, 2014 at 6:37 AM

    The last five years have been disappointing playoff runs. Most years, one player was the major reason, but a secondary or tertiary reason was coaching. This season, coaching is the primary reason. Every year, the opponents make changes and adjustments over the course of the series. We get up three then tail off and lose. The pens make no changes while the other team does. That explains why we are so good during the season, opponents don’t have two weeks to game plan us. It’s one game and on to the next. Playoffs are different. Consistent theme is coaching.

  13. timmons94 - May 14, 2014 at 7:18 AM

    Fire Disco Dan and Ray Shero…

    lock up Sutter, our best player at the moment, Sutter does everything right..Effort was there, Niskanen stupid penalty proved costly…Our power play was power less. I do like Goc and Stemp…we need more of those guys than Neal…Trade Neal…please….
    oh well. we lost..when we won the cup 5 years ago, my bank account didn’t increase, it was a fun season.

  14. sizzle299 - May 14, 2014 at 7:30 AM

    Don’t worry Dan, history has taught us that Penguins fans tend to jump ship when their team is not competitive. Wait another few years and no one will know, or care, who is coaching. Maybe you can stay coach when the team goes into “tank on purpose” mode to try to get some high draft picks. It has worked for them in the past!

  15. papajack1259 - May 14, 2014 at 7:42 AM

    Gmart22 you bring up good points but, and it’s a big but, can Crosby win in Pitsburgh? I believe he is not a captain the Pens have no leader no one who holds the team accountable This is not a Wash or Vanc type team they were one and done Pittsburgh has the team to win for the last three years! They have failed to add the right pieces That falls on Shero & the Coach there is no system in Pittsburgh there is Crosby & Malken free wheeling and that’s it Blow up the team while you still have some youth in Crosbys legs and take The C off his jersey he is a valuable piece but not a good leader

  16. drewsylvania - May 14, 2014 at 8:08 AM

    I don’t think this problem goes away until the team stops being “Crosby’s Tuxedoes”. Either trade Crosby or put in a coach who won’t give him special treatment.

    • c9castine - May 14, 2014 at 1:13 PM

      what special treatment is he getting there insider??

      • drewsylvania - May 14, 2014 at 2:23 PM

        Isn’t it obvious?

      • c9castine - May 14, 2014 at 2:25 PM

        if it is you should have an easy explanation for me

      • drewsylvania - May 14, 2014 at 3:13 PM

        The guy is not held accountable for his behavior, which is routinely not becoming of a captain. The team no doubt realizes this–yet somehow no one will take the C away or bring consequences for being a perpetual whiner and sulky whacker. This comes from ownership. Lemieux has so much emotional investment in Crosby that he coddles Crosby. Either that or Crosby isn’t listening. But if the latter, take the C away. Don’t let one player hijack your thinking.

        Look at the Bruins. No player is above any other. The opposite is true of the Pens. And, hell, the Caps.

      • c9castine - May 14, 2014 at 3:16 PM

        hahaha….and your opinion on this is valid why? because you spend every day following the team?

  17. drewsylvania - May 14, 2014 at 8:09 AM

    And can somebody board Neal already?

  18. drewsylvania - May 14, 2014 at 8:10 AM

    Put Crosby on the 4th line for a week, see if he’ll be a better team player after that.

    • hockey412 - May 14, 2014 at 9:13 AM

      Is Crosby not a team player?

      • moarjam - May 14, 2014 at 10:34 AM

        Not trying to pile on but I do think he brings a negative energy to his team. It’s tough to get going when the man setting the tone is always complaining and pouting… He’ll be 27 in a few months. Not a kid anymore. Time to mature.

      • hockey412 - May 14, 2014 at 11:45 AM

        There’s a snowball effect there too. The more teams/players get under his skin, the more teams/players know how to get under his skin. In some ways I agree. In other ways, the team needs better constructed to bring more grit. That sounds completely irrelevant, but I don’t believe it is. Can’t have Kunitz and Neal out there fighting Crosby and Malkin’s battles. (or worse, as we’ve seen, Sid fighting Sid’s battles – and I’m not talking about fighting, just initiating the physical – and legal – play). Adams doesn’t do it because he can rarely catch up to the play. Glass does it once in a blue moon, Vitale can do it, but can’t control the puck and that’s a bad thing).

      • jimthebear - May 14, 2014 at 11:27 AM

        No, he’s Not. He’s a ‘Look at me and my stats’ ash clown,

      • hockey412 - May 14, 2014 at 11:51 AM

        I don’t believe that to be true, actually. But, how do I argue with someone that ends a sentence with a comma? I don’t.

        Actually I will argue that (can’t help myself). So you’re saying that players with great ‘stats’ aren’t team players. But Crosby led the league in assists. Generally that means he’s setting up teammates as opposed to thinking ‘me first’. That’s my point of view on it, I guess, what’s yours?

      • moarjam - May 14, 2014 at 1:54 PM

        I don’t get a ‘me first’ vibe from him. I honestly think he just needs to man up and not get thrown off so easily. Not trying to hate on him but he comes across as an undisciplined brat when he doesn’t get his way. His team takes HIS lead. He doesn’t take theirs. He’s a grown *** man and sometimes he honestly displays behavior you might expect to see out of a squirt or pee wee.

  19. kastout11 - May 14, 2014 at 8:16 AM

    I don’t shy away from the fact that I hate the Penguins, but I don’t think Shero or Bylsma should lose their jobs. What else does Shero have to do? He brings in the personnel that one would think would bring them the cup, and does anyone really think they will find a better coach than Bylsma? The team had a ton of players out the entire year, and didn’t even have an opportunity to play with another. They also only have two lines that produce. There will be changes to personnel. They lost again to a team that they were favored to beat, even though they ran into a goaltender last night that was ridiculous. No shame in losing to the Rangers last night. The Rangers have been one of the best teams in the NHL during the second half of the season and beat a strong Philly team in the first round. Let the rebuild begin. Start by adding some depth and getting rid of some of the guys with big price tags (ie. Neal/Letang). Even though he had a terrible penalty, they will not be able to afford to keep Niskannen.

  20. bricktop02 - May 14, 2014 at 8:25 AM

    See ya next year sindee.IMG953590.png

  21. stangshockey12 - May 14, 2014 at 8:45 AM

    I think that the Pens should move letang and Neal for some younger people and gain some more depth. Also fire Bylsma but keep Shero

    • hockey412 - May 14, 2014 at 9:27 AM

      Letang and Neal ARE younger people.

  22. pjblake2redwings - May 14, 2014 at 9:07 AM

    bahahah Sorry bout it Pens fans.. Suck it Cindy

  23. biasedhomer - May 14, 2014 at 11:47 AM

    Shero is one of the most overrated GMs in the NHL.

    • capsgriff011 - May 14, 2014 at 12:14 PM

      As a Caps fan, I would just like to say thank you! This has been a most enjoyable thread.

      Yes, I know, the Caps suck and so does my momma.

  24. hosewater2 - May 14, 2014 at 12:01 PM

    I understand the disappointment, but look only ONE team gets to win the Cup every year. Does that mean the 29 other teams should fire their coaches/GMs and trade away their best players?

    I told Ray Shero that those prospects weren’t going to win him a Cup this year, but Kesler might help. It’s not like he would have been trading away the future for a rental.

    Kesler for Neal?

    • hockey412 - May 14, 2014 at 1:13 PM

      In a heartbeat. The problem isn’t that they lost, it’s HOW they lost. It’s a recurring theme. It speaks to an underlying problem, to which there might not be an easy answer: the Pens have not been able to compete with top-level teams in a best of 7 series for 5 years straight, and they are running out of time.

    • drewsylvania - May 14, 2014 at 2:27 PM

      I approve. It would put Neal as far from my team as possible, which is a good thing since for some reason the league lets him get away with assault every other game.

  25. ndrick731 - May 14, 2014 at 12:30 PM

    Maybe everybody outside of Pittsburgh could get some perspective. The Pens and especially their two superstars are built for the regular season. When playing a team in the regular season you don’t have time to game scheme and see how things work and then adapt. Once the playoffs start teams can then use specific strategies. The one obvious strategy that has been used for the last three years is to have a specific player hound Crosby to get him off his game. He can’t adapt from the free-flowing game he is allowed to play during the regular season. Same goes for Malkin to a lesser extent. Once Crosby becomes frustrated the play of his wingers deteriorates due to his me first attitude. Also all the ticky-tacky penalties they call when anybody gets near Crosby during the regular season stops in the playoffs. The statement that they have lost to 3 lesser teams over the last three years is ridiculous. The Bruins were clearly a better team than the Penguins last year and the Flyers have had their number ever since they moved into the new building. They made a mistake re-signing Letang and now will probably pay for that mistake by losing Niskanen. James Neal is a goalscorer but commits stupid penalties and almost plays no defense. He is Scott Hartnell of the Flyers without the physical game. Players like Tanner Glass and Joe Vitale are useless come playoff time. The Penguins are now what the Sharks have been for years. A team of players who cannot raise their game in the playoffs. Now I know everyone in Pittsburgh is going to say this is a bunch of crap but everyone outside of Pittsburgh knows that it’s true and loves it.

    • miketoasty - May 14, 2014 at 12:53 PM

      I live in Pittsburgh, it’s not crap, it’s just the truth.

    • hockey412 - May 14, 2014 at 1:18 PM

      I agree with Miketoasty – I don’t think this is crap at all, except that I’d argue that most people INSIDE pittsburgh feel this way. Just because there are random commenters that are idiotic in their fanaticism does not mean that you see things we don’t. However, I’d also argue that these strategies and tactics that you talk about are a coaching mechanism. Bylsma’s got some big weapons at his disposal…why has he not been able to use ‘strategy’ to employ those weapons in a useful manner?

  26. slysipops - May 14, 2014 at 5:58 PM

    MIKE KEENAN might be available……….. he could keep cindy in line !

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