The call on Dan Bylsma’s future behind the Penguins’ bench may not be Pittsburgh general manager Ray Shero’s to make. Several individuals within the industry have told Slap Shots Penguins chairman Mario Lemieux, distressed by his team’s fourth straight failure to get out of the Eastern Conference after consecutive trips to the Finals in 2008 and 2009, the latter culminating with a Stanley Cup victory, may instruct Shero to dismiss the coach. There already is chatter out of Pittsburgh about how the Penguins failed to “adapt” or “adjust” to the Bruins in the Eastern finals sweep — during which they never held the lead, were limited to two goals overall and were shut out on the power play. All those areas generally are the purview of the coaching staff. Someone likely is to pay for the debacle that followed a series of moves at the trade deadline in which Pittsburgh sacrificed four draft picks and three prospects to acquire rental properties Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow and Douglas Murray, not one of whom came close to making a difference once the Penguins stepped up in class. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury all but certainly will become someone else’s reclamation project following a fourth straight subpar playoff performance and second consecutive tournament meltdown. Maybe Florida, away from expectations and off the hockey grid, could work for Fleury, who has a .880 save percentage, 3.18 goals-against average and 14-16 record the last four postseasons after going .920, 2.31 and 30-14 during the back-to-back runs to the Finals. Look, the Bruins are a very good, very tough and extremely strong-willed group that has used the NHL’s vanishing standards of officiating to their benefit. And why wouldn’t they? The playoffs in both conferences have been dominated by the holding, hooking, and off-the-puck fouling the league once vowed to eradicate, but now accepts as a matter of unstated policy, with the amount of legal interference increasing incrementally by the round. Perhaps there is a phone call or a memo from Gary Bettman to Colin Campbell on the subject the NSA might be able to provide us with. It’s mind-numbing, the volume of 1-0, 2-0 and 2-1 games. In 2003 and 2004, the two years before Owners’ Lockout II produced new-era rules to open up the game in conjunction with the imposition of the hard salary cap, there were a total of 40 games in which the winning team scored two goals or fewer. Over the last two years, through Friday night, there have been 45 games in which the winning team failed to score as many as three goals, and, no, not all of them involved the Rangers. Yes, it is true, you can have a truly great 2-1 game, as was Game 7 of the Rangers-Devils epochal 1994 Eastern finals. But not 45 of them, not when they’re played every night, not when there is no space on the ice and no time in which to use it, not when no one can score. There have been moments of high drama, but few instances of sustained interest. And too many botched calls to believe they’re primarily a matter of omission rather than an issue of policy. The Penguins have seen the worst of all worlds the last three years, unable to hold a 3-1 series lead against the Lightning in 2011, undone against the Flyers last year by a burlesque show in nets, undressed by impotence on offense against the Bruins this year. No, Mario is not likely to sit still for this.
Sources: Mario Lemieux may order firing of Dan Bylsma
New York Post | Jun 10