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Wakeup Call: Want stability? Stick by your lines

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Brief and to the Point …

>> My Friday column is about Paul Chryst’s effect, both visible and audible, on Pitt football. If the piece doesn’t give you the impression that I came away highly impressed, then it will have failed.

>> Dan Bylsma hasn’t made many mistakes since becoming the Penguins’ coach, to say the least. He’s pushed as many of the right buttons as anyone behind any bench. But not last night.

How do you ream out the team one day for not playing a more consistent, more systematic approach, then rip up all the forward lines the next day?

Seriously?

Even if it had worked, it would have been a bizarre way to go about it. But it clearly didn’t work, as the Penguins again lost to the Islanders and again looked out of sorts in doing so.

I’m not one of those who’s going to shriek from the top of a building over this. Anyone who isn’t noticing that the Islanders have legit speed and skill up front is probably in the infancy of watching hockey. It’s not a bad team, and these aren’t bad losses. But the Penguins certainly are capable of playing far better than this.

And they would, if only Bylsma would follow these lines …

Chris Kunitz-Evgeni Malkin-James Neal (Call it the Duh Line in honor of stupidly splitting them last night.)

Jordan Staal-Sidney Crosby-Pascal Dupuis (Sorry, can’t let go of this one.)

Matt Cooke-Richard Park-Tyler Kennedy (Park’s played center before. All kinds of speed, grit here.)

Steve Sullivan-Craig Adams-Arron Asham (Adams can take draws, superior defender.)

From there, whether it’s this or whatever, Bylsma needs to stick by it. Not much time left for jelling.

>> That said, heard and read way too many complaints last night about the five-forward power play. With Kris Letang out, who exactly from the defense corps do you want to add?

Simon Despres came out on the second unit. That’s about right. There’s no one else.

>> To repeat from that Pirates analysis Sunday, James McDonald concerns me. There’s close to nothing in his history that he can consistently pitch deep into games. If that doesn’t change in 2012 — and it sure looked like a rough one yesterday — this could be a case of management getting excited over a multiple-pitch repertoire rather than real information.

>> Here’s the chat transcript from yesterday. My plan for the weekend is highlighted by a whole lot of nothing until covering Penguins-Flyers on Sunday, followed by KDKA-TV’s “Showdown” later that night.

Oh, and thanks for all the suggestions yesterday for the blog. Trust me when I tell you that all were read, not only by me but also by people far more important than me.

Comments

  1. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    DK- Like I said on FB, the Chryst piece is well worth the read, excellent hire by Pitt, and should really turn this team around in due time.

    Patience Pitt fans…This is the guy you want. It might make me root for them this fall. We’ll see.

  2. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    As far as the Pens thing, I have no clue. I do know that it doesn’t matter what sport or occupation, you don’t ream someone for not doing their job and then totally change their job without them getting redemtion.

    Do you see Mike Tomlin, or better yet Bill Cowher ream somebody and not let them get back after it? I say better yet Cowher because I don’t see Tomlin really reaming guys.

  3. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    OH and the cool thing about reading this blog and your column, its currently my early afternoon, most of you are all sleeping!!!!

    so, firsties?!

    DK: Deb usually laps the competition on firsties. Not tonight, apparently.

  4. Leah Backus says:

    Curious, Dejan. Why not Vitale instead of Park? Got to work him in there somewhere. He’s too good and gritty not to. Either way, yes, the lines need to be decided *now*. I was appalled to see that top line broken up. I have a nasty little voice in my head wondering if a certain someone decided he wanted his winger back and is being accommodated. I hope I’m being paranoid.

    As far as the power play, there’s an obvious answer that no one but me seems to like. I’d rather see Martin on the point than five forwards. It was quite clear that it didn’t work. I’m sure this comment will draw some Martin hate, so I’ll just point out that Crosby, Sullivan, Kunitz and Neal were a combined -10 last night and had 0 points. Martin was +2 and had 2. Just saying.

    DK: I like Park. Not sure why he gets scratched. Better on PK than Vitale, too.

  5. Ryan (Nor-Cal Stlrfanrc) says:

    DK- Love the chat, but you’re starting to sound as grumpy as that Steeler guy at the other paper…those answers are great. I kid, I kid.

  6. pghboyinca says:

    Get ready for a 100 loss season for the Pirates, this team is going to really suck. They can’t hit are below average defensively and thei rpitchimng will be mediocre at best. They will be in the bottom 3 of all baseball this year in scoring runs. By May 1st they will never see .500 again they will quit on Hurdle again like last year. The second half of last year was not the abberation , the first half was.

  7. TheSaltyRogue says:

    ^^^^^

    My aren’t you a ray of sunshine? GO BUCS.

    “Just Say No to the Toe Tap.” – Rogue.

  8. scapper says:

    You guys wrote a good column today. Well done, everybody. (I mean, you do write these as a group with all your other media brethren and fellow scribes, right?) Sorry, just read the chat.

  9. Ed says:

    Pirates will not lose 100 games. Not with the Astros and Cubs in the same division.

  10. JAL says:

    JAL’s I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles Morning Links

    GENERAL DAILY UPDATED BASEBALL SITES

    1- MLB Transactions

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/transactions

    2-MLB Trade Rumors-Pirates

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/pittsburgh_pirates/

    3 Yahoo Free Agent Tracker

    http://ca.sports.yahoo.com/mlb/news;_ylt=AvN8KLXkNW0TcRjzSCagLIMBbgM6?slug=jp-passan_ultimate_free_agent_tracker_baseball_110211

    4 Pittsburgh Pirates 2012 Spring Training Tracker

    http://www.piratesprospects.com/st2012

    5 Go Buccos- Pirate News (from external sources)

    http://gobuccos.com/pittsburgh-pirate-news/

  11. PigLegs Robinson says:

    Agree on James McDonald. Been saying this all along, while so many keep the rose-colored glasses on about him. The man is a 5 inning pitcher at best. I don’t care if he has 15 pitches, he has no ability to pitch well consistently or endure past the the 5th inning.
    We are now in an age where truth does not matter anymore, just majority opinion. Facts are tossed out the window.
    Just like how everyone thinks Jose Tabata is anything more than a mediocre fourth outfielder. I say they better think about trading him now while they can get something decent for him, before his real value is discovered.

  12. JAL says:

    NEWSPAPERS and MAGAZINES

    11 Minneapolis Star Tribune

    Tee (off) time: Pirates’ McDonald allows 10 runs, 7 hits and 7 walks in 11-6 loss to Twins

    http://www.startribune.com/sports/twins/144973255.html

    12 Bradenton Herald

    Spring Training 2012 | Catcher McKenry to make first Opening Day roster with Pittsburgh Pirates

    http://www.bradenton.com/2012/03/30/3970727/spring-training-2012-catcher-mckenry.html

    13 Baltimore Sun

    Nats ink P Duke to minor league deal

    http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/sns-tsn-aan-duke-was-20120329,0,7902215.story

    14 Wall Street Journal

    Handicapping the Season

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303404704577309422587974572.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

    15 CBS Sports

    McLouth a proud Pirate, and says talent is upgraded

    http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/blog/scott-miller/18133944/mclouth-a-proud-pirate-and-says-talent-is-upgraded

  13. JAL says:

    Steelers Blogs

    20 Behind the Steel Curtain

    The Steelers’ “Leadership Crisis” and What It Means for the 2012 Season

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/3/29/2910427/steelers-2012-captains-leadership-hines-ward-james-farrior-aaron-smith

    BTSC 2012 Community Mock Draft Pick No. 1 — Indianapolis Colts Select Andrew Luck, QB, Stanford

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/3/29/2910420/nfl-mock-draft-indianapolis-colts-andrew-luck-robert-griffin-ben-roethlisberger-bruce-arians

    21 Steelers Depot

    - Does Twitter Define a Player

    http://www.steelersdepot.com/2012/03/does-twitter-define-a-player/

    22 Nice Pick Cower

    Rules for the NFL. Rules for the Steelers

    http://nicepickcowher.com/2012/03/29/rules-for-the-nfl-rules-for-the-steelers/

  14. JAL says:

    PENGUIN BLOGS

    26 Pensburgh

    Brooks Orpik is right: The Pens need to out-defend, not out-gun opponents

    http://www.pensburgh.com/2012/3/29/2910341/brooks-orpik-is-right-the-pens-need-to-out-defend-not-out-gun

    Soccer(football)

    27 Sky Sports

    Bilbao hit back to sink Schalke

    http://www.skysports.com/football/match_report/0,,11065_3500362,00.html

    28 World Soccer Daily

    World Soccer Daily: 10 stories you need to read, 29th March, 2012

    http://www.worldsoccer.com/247/world-soccer-daily-10-stories-you-need-to-read-29th-march-2012

    29 Daily Telegraph

    Salomon Kalou strikes as Chelsea down Benfica in Champions League; Real Madrid overwhelm Apoel Nicosia

    http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/sport/soccer/salomon-kalou-strikes-as-chelsea-down-benfica-in-champions-league-real-madrid-overwhelm-apoel-nicosia/story-e6frey4r-1226312078378

  15. JAL says:

    Title song I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles, from the musical The Passing Show,1918. This version is the West Ham United theme song. West Ham currently plays in the Championship League but they are in contention for promotion to the Premier League. Song most recently used in the 2008 movie The Watermelon.

  16. JAL says:

    Traveling this weekend and returning Monday so no morning links Monday.

  17. scapper says:

    JAL joins Biertempfel as another slacker who doesn’t work 24/7.

  18. Jandy says:

    Leah, I like Vitale in thrid line center as well. Park is fine too tho. Vitale brings a lot of….energy and grit.
    If I had been around DB last night, I would have slapped him. WHy in the name of the good Lord above would you split up a line that has shown chemisty and is working? I was so completely flibbergusted. Unbelievable. I hope he is big enough to admit his mistake.
    The PP won’t work with Sid and Geno on it. I’ve said it time and again. I don’t care what defenseman mans the point, for some reason, it just doesn’t jell with those two on it.
    As for who to put there, After Letangm my choice is Niskanen, but he is out as well. Paul Martin is a very good choice after those two. He’s fine. Put him in there.
    I’m liking what I see from Strait and Despres. I feel they will be great contributors to the defense in the next couple of years.
    That said, no way should this team lose two games in a row to the Islanders. Yes, they have good firepower. But so do we. Montoya looked like a genius in goal last night. Thanks to our ineptitude.

    “Oh, and thanks for all the suggestions yesterday for the blog. Trust me when I tell you that all were read, not only by me but also by people far more important than me.”
    DK, no one is more important than you are…at least, not in this space =)

  19. Jandy says:

    scapper, you’re on a roll this morning, trying to catch up with Milo? ;)
    LOL!

  20. Rob says:

    I don’t think the word stability is correct, and maybe I missed something but if someone from the Penguins used the word stability, was the word consistency used? Then in context to the teams sloppy play lately, and possibly their playing with less defensive responsibility, I can understand Bylsma mixing the lines. Especially the Malkin line, which sent the message play the right way, and get back to the team system. No it didn’t work out on the score sheet last night, but it sent the message. Oh and as far as stability or consistency is concerned, where does injury factor into this calculation. In some respects this is the 1st time the top three centers have been healthy in quite a while. I look at Bylsma’s tinkering with the forwards last night (and as long as i can remember actually) as an effort to remind these guys it’s not all about offense, and using the last regular season (meaningless games for the most part) games to gear up for the playoffs (the prize).

  21. Jandy says:

    Rob. DB was mixing the lines 2 games after Sid came back. I don’t think even TK should be on his line, maybe put Sully on his line and Staal. But no way does a coach mix and match lines like that and have any “consistency” and success to win games.

    These games are FAR from meaningless, if you go by what DB himself has said. It was a goal to get first in their division. They are failing miserably at achieving that goal.

  22. scapper says:

    Jandy,

    I’m on a “Caps might miss the playoffs” high…so, as much as this pains me…GO SABRES!

  23. tk says:

    Is Steve Sullivan here just to pass? How did he pass up (no pun intended) a shot he could have had early in the game? He was right between the faceoff circles with no one between him and the goalie but instead of taking the shot from a prime scoring area he passed it back to a covered Staal who wasn’t able to get a shot off. Sullivan is a great passer and a decent playmaker, especially behind the net, but it’s frustrating to watch him pass on high scoring chances. It has to infuriate Bylsma sometimes since he likes his team to fire at will and punch in the rebounds?

  24. Jandy says:

    scapper, lol, yeah, you’ve been on that “high” for some time now.
    I still want my boys to win!

    tk ~ I saw Jordan Staal do that at least twice last night. He also screwed up on 3 or 4 great scoring chances. Trust me, it’s not isolated to just one or two players.

  25. montyb says:

    I think Staal would work well with Crosby and Dupuis on a second line, but I’d rather see a Cooke-Staal-Kennedy 3rd line for the playoffs. Staal is such a great shut down defensive center, and that line can put a ton of pressure on a teams #1 line by pinning them down in their own zone with it’s relentless forechecking. I also think Sullivan fits better on a scoring line than a 4th line. However, the fact that I’m disagreeing with DK makes me think I must be wrong.
    Nice article on Paul Chryst this morning. It’s nice to get excited about PITT football again, even if it is March.

  26. LuckyNKentucky says:

    I’ll defer all the hockey talk to the “Articulate Ladies of Hockey”, Jandy, Leah, Deb, Sheila, etc. and the rest of you guys, but that column on Chryst was very good. As John In Oshkosh knows, the Wisconsin program is and has been one of the best in the country and the offense he ran was superb for years. Look for great things from Pitt minus the octane.

  27. Jandy says:

    Lucky, your wife is a Lucky Lady :)

  28. Thundercrack says:

    DK, I went to Mixons yesterday. I mentioned you to the guy behind the counter at the cafe. ( he has a bushy mustache). He didn’t realize you switched papers. He also said it was OK for me to put my lemonade on your tab. Thanks!

    That lemonade is very very good

  29. NMR says:

    This could be just me, but the Chryst article sounds like his best asset is that he’s not Todd Graham. What exactly stuck out that isn’t a normal football practice?

    It has to be more than ironic that the program is looking optomistically at getting back to what amounts in this article to the Dave W. era.

    Maybe the Pitt program is really that down and I gave them too much credit, but I was really expecting to read about more impressive Chryst traits than that.

  30. tk says:

    Jandy – Sure last night they were all passing too much. Even Bob Errey said it on the telecast, too much east-west. But Sulli’s been doing it all season.

  31. LuckyNKentucky says:

    NMR,

    Chryst is more than the anti-Graham and better than Wanstedt. Just the fact that he recognizes football for what it is and isn’t is a step up from those 2. I have nothing against Wanstedt, but I was sure happy the Steelers picked Bill Cowher when they did and passed on Dave. Like they say in “the proof of the puddin’ is in the eatin’” and there will be some good eatin’ with Chryst.

    Jandy,

    I tell her that all the time.

  32. Sarcastic Sword says:

    Changing the lines last night reeked of a desperate coach…..yes, they’ve been poor for a week to ten days but stick with what you know..never break up Kunitz Malkin Neal….

    I agree 100% with DK….Bylsma is fantsatic – but every once in a while he has a moment in which I wonder how this guy won a Stanley Cup in his first 4 months on the job….

  33. tk says:

    Sarcastic Sword – I agree, but I think Michelle Therien should also get credit for that Stanley Cup.

  34. Milo Hamilton says:

    Dejan,

    I need your help. I met Tino Sunseri last weekend & he seemed very nice. Here’s my question. Pitt lists his height as 6-2. There in absolutely no way. I don’t even think he’s 6-0. Your thoughts please.

  35. JAL says:

    Lineup today

    3/30: Tabata 9 Navarro 7 McCutchen 8 McGehee 5 Barajas 2 Walker 4 Hague 3 Barmes 6 McKenry DH Watson LHP. Going all relievers today

  36. Jandy says:

    tk, Therrien did indeed get them on the road to success. However, he hit a mental “block” with them and wasn’t good enough to overcome it. DB may hit that one day, who knows?
    Also, Ron Francis made a living on being the “assist” man, passing to others.

    SS ~ even the best of them have a “brain fart” once in a while…even our DK, but he’s man enough to admit it. :)

  37. Jandy says:

    ::waitin’ on Milo’s punchline::

  38. Jandy says:

    The Hague plays today ! Thanks JAL

  39. Leefoo says:

    I am still in McDonald’s corner. Not giving up on him……..yet!

    …..

  40. Leefoo says:

    So much for the hope that McConnell would go to PSU.

    sigh

  41. Pistol Pete says:

    Couple observations:

    1. These games reinforce my belief that Letang and Fluery are by far the most important Pens at this point – Letang’s absence (count the number of times he takes pucks out of danger a game – it is more than the rest of the D-men combined) and Fleury’s mini slump and the Pen’s are giving up 5+ a game – in the play-offs, 3 goals should be enough to win – without Letang and without Fleury being a top 5 goalie, 3 goals won’t cut it and it will be a short play-off run.

    2. Sid looks like he has not played in 18 months – he is frequently in the wrong place, losing his share of puck battles, missing the net with his shots, and has little endurance – he is still playing better than an average player but he is not playing like Sid – at this point, Staal is playing significantly better and Jordan should be your second line center – hopefully, next year we can get Sid back for real.

    3. Your line combos would be just as bad as Bylsma – besides the fact that except for the first duh line, the lines have practically never played together (with 5 games left in the season) putting your best defensive center/face-off man on the wing, making Richard Park your third line center (if he plays more than two games in relief in a play-off series, the Pens are in trouble) and putting Steve Sullivan on a 4th line (and he is going to hit who?) makes no sense – at this point, let Jordan be reunited with Cook and Kennedy as your second line, put Duper and Sullivan with Crosby (if you want variety or something to wake up Sid, those four forward can rotate) and give me a fourth line of Asham, Adams and Vitale (the 3 best grinders by far all season long) – and those should be the lines from here until summer.

    4. My biggest worry is Bylsma – he was fully out-coached in the first round last year – making bone-headed line / substitution decisions that were in stark contract to TB’s coaching and showing he had no clue about how to coach a power play – he was the main reason they were knocked out in the first round and nothing has changed – if you do not play D’s on the power-play, you give up short-handed goals and unless your power-play is scoring 50% of the time (dream-on), you turn an advantage into a disadvantage – you also cannot play for two minutes and be effective and therefore you need two strong power-play units – the Pens are one of the few teams that have the talent to have a really strong second unit – the Pens would be far better off if you removed the coach and just put a time-keeper on the bench that would always send out the second unit after 1:00 minute of power play time – unfortunately, at this point, I don’t see another Stanley Cup in Pittsburgh until they get a new coach.

  42. tk says:

    Jandy – so Bylsma deserves all the credit for that cup?

  43. cosmo says:

    Need to keep Kunitz-Malkin-Neal line. That line has carried the team for most of the season.
    First K’dro falters now JMac on the outs, Pirates have no chance this year. As the line goes from Major League “we suck again”. Is there no hope.

  44. Milo Hamilton says:

    Penn State has a basketball team ?

  45. NMR says:

    @Lucky

    No offense to Chryst, but he hasn’t coached a play in his life. He had two great football guys in Bret Beilema(sp) and Barry Alvarez over him during his most successful years. Nobody really has any idea how good he’ll be.

    By no means am I trying to rain on the parade. Chryst sounds like a great guy. To an outsider, this article just read a little hollow. Could be just me.

  46. cosmo says:

    @ milo

    yes they have a womans team.

  47. NMR says:

    “Penn State has a basketball team?”

    Yeah, didn’t you watch them in the NCAA tourny this year?

    Wait, we’re not talking about Suzie Mcconnell-Serio?

  48. LuckyNKentucky says:

    NMR,

    Good points.

  49. mike says:

    Dan Bylsma’s motto: If it ain’t broke, then break it.

    I hated the idea of Crosby playing with Kennedy, I really did. BUT, the day Sidney Crosby came back to this team, it already was a cup contender that was playing the best hockey out there, that had a real swagger to it, that had the best first line in hockey, and that had a second line with Staal centering Sullivan and Dupuis that had helped Staal emerge as a real offensive threat.

    So, Crosby comes back, and Bylsma put him with Cooke and Kennedy. The team smoked the Rangers and the Devils in consecutive games and then beat itself in Philly (and this was with Sid getting a ton of chances and the interstellar goalie standing on his head).

    As they have been prone to do, they started getting a little loose defensively, but they still were winning. Instead of focusing on the defensive play, Bylsma kept juggling lines, taking away from the flow of the lines. Where Malkin’s line was the one he’d throw out again and again, it started being rolled pretty regularly. Where Staal had a comfort zone offensively and was making a real impact, his comfort level took a back seat.

    Then, the Tuesday game happened. It was time to tighten things up. Bylsma reamed the team. That should have been enough. But, like a Steelers organization that fires the offensive coordinator because the defense chokes, Bylsma used that game as a justification to break up a Malkin line that had 24 shots in that game (and then put Malkin and Neal with Sullivan, which redefined both Geno’s and Neal’s roles and had Malkin skating all night on his heels instead of attacking) and to put Staal quote ‘where he belongs’ with Cooke and Kennedy.

    And, what do you know, the Pens lose 5-3 again and look worse doing it.

    A week and a half ago, I thought that no team could beat the Pens but they could beat themselves. Now, I’ll add this: They also have to be concerned about Bylsma coaching them out of the playoffs.

    Between his messing up any cohesion or flow to the lines and what’s happened to the PP (it all flows through Sid again, to wonderful effect), Dejan was right with his tweet last night: Instead of reaming the team, maybe Bylsma should look in the mirror.

  50. Jandy says:

    tk, I’m not getting into a p*ssing match with you about Therrien. He wasn’t the coach when the Pens won the cup, and there is nothing I can do about that. Get over it. =)

  51. cosmo says:

    at least they won’t have to meet the islanders in the playoffs.

  52. Jandy says:

    Pistol Pete, great post, I enjoyed reading it. I’m not convinced BD can’t coach this team to the cup. We definitely ran out of steam last season.
    That said, he sure is making some bone-headed decisions lately, I won’t argue that. I LOVE Vitale as center, with Asham and Cooke on either side. Such grit is hard to play against for a third line.I stil think Sid would do great with Staal and Dupuis. Adams can center the fourth line. Mix and match wings. I’m not disagreeing the Cooke/Staal/Kennedy third line isn’t great, it’s a proven shut down line. There are options. But, darnit, make the decicions and stick with them!

  53. Jandy says:

    I wonder how long it will take before Mario has a talk with DB?

  54. NMR says:

    @Lucky

    That being said, if Chryst can bring over the same success as he had beating my Lions, you’ll be a happy man!

    @cosmo

    The Islanders rank up there with the Oil in terms of being an enigma. Both teams have flat-out studs on offense, when they’re clicking.

    Catching a couple L’s in a row to that team isn’t as shocking as doing the same to a low ranked team such as Columbus.

  55. LuckyNKentucky says:

    NMR,

    I’d rather he beat your Lions than my Buckeyes, like Wisconsin does quite frequently. He’ll get his first head coaching victory against my Alma Mater when they play Youngstown State in the opener. I wish Pitt and OSU still played. They had a couple home and home series in the early 90′s. I wish OSU would play KY in football, too. They’re like and hour and a half from each other.

  56. tk says:

    Bylsma won the cup playing Theriens system, they had to since he was hired 2/3 through the season. Bylsma incorporated his system the following season and since then they haven’t got past the second round of the playoffs. Obviously injuries are the main reason they lost but until Bylsma coaches a team through a long playoff run (hopefully this year) I still think Therien deserves just as much credit as Bylsma gets for that stanley cup. Yes Therien hit a “mental” block and players weren’t listening to him anymore and Bylsma was a new voice the players needed to hear. Not saying Bylsma is a bad coach, he’s a very good coach. I just wanted to make my point about Therien. Now I can get over it…

  57. radio wave says:

    As a Rangers fan, I can’t believe the pens lost twice to the Isles. I’m already to take a sigh of relief. Would still like to catch the Blues. And those darn Caps just won’t bite the dust, pulled one out last night.

  58. Jandy says:

    tk, sorry if I was a bit abrupt, didn’t mean to come across that way.
    Therrien took a lot of heat when the Pens started losing. It’s always the coach that gets the ax as one can’t fire the entire team. Every coach is different and has different approaches. There’s a reason Dan Bylsma has been voted as “coach player would most like to play for.” It isn’t his smile =)
    But right now, I want to slap him.

  59. Jandy says:

    radio, as NMR said above, the Isles are a very good offensive team. Tavares, Moulson, Parenteau, Okposo, Streit, to name a few are very good scorers. Their downside has been their goaltending, but the Pens made Montoya look better than Patrick Roy last night. But yeah, those pesky Caps just won’t roll over. (Did ya really expect them to?)

  60. scapper says:

    If the Caps get in as either #8 or #3, they are going to pull of some upsets. The best thing for that team would be to limp into the playoffs with no pressure or high expectations.

    I could see them being the Flyers and Lightning of the last two post-seasons.

  61. tk says:

    Hello. My name is Al Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die…

  62. I HATE LOSING!!!

    That being established, I liked what Dan Bylsma did last night.
    There is NO WAY a coach can replicate game conditions and consequent adrenaline in practice. While Bylsma did not intend to lose last night’s game, he entered it with goals even above winning.

    1/ He reams out the team over its defensive effort Tuesday to get maximum defensive focus Thursday.
    2/ Many, many of the media——of which our intrepid reporter/columnist is only one——have been calling for a variety of line presentations since Sid returned, e.g., look above to DK’s incessant Sid/Staal echo. So many print articles and frequent radio and tv discussions have suggested a variety of lines. Look at the multitude of line suggestions in our own comments.
    3/ First Place against the Rangers already seemed to be lost.
    4/ Bylsma treated last night’s game, against a team not going anywhere, against a team with which our players would have a revenge factor, against a team on the road, after he had forcefully drawn the Penguins focus back to defense . . . . as a laboratory, to try many and varied line formations in a true game setting. There weren’t many line mixes he did not try. All that info he and his coaching staff garnered will be sifted through as he prepares the Penguins to make a long run in the Playoffs.

    You won’t see those kinds of frequent line changes again——but it was wise to try them all in a true game setting.

    I like what Dan Bylsma did in last night’s game for the future success of the Penguins this year!

  63. Milo Hamilton says:

    I thought it was former WWF jobber Aldo Montoya who went on to fame as Justin Credible in ECW.

  64. radio wave says:

    Jandy:
    i listen to the Tony Kornheiser talk show from Washington D.C. everyday. They are very down on the Caps. Yes, I am surprised by any success they have. Their goaltending is terrible, and the coaching change backfired. I will be surprised if they get paast the first round. However, as a Rangers fan, I fully expect a Rangers choke in the playoffs, I just hope it isn’t against the Caps in the first round if they play.

  65. Pistol Pete says:

    One of the issues is looking at your team now, versus what it was in prior years or what you hope it becomes – Staal is now your second best center, best face-off man and best defensive center – he has to get signficant time at center (if Sid gets his game back, that can be adjusted) – Vitale has played better than Park all year, has the same all around game and hits more than Park ever has, Cooke has developed an offensive game and is no longer just a third line pest – Geno and Sid’s lines are playing terrible defense and that has to change – Martin is still terrible no matter how much Dan loves him – a big part of coaching is adjusting to what are your current team’s acutal strengths and weaknesses – I wish I though Disco Dan was up to it.

  66. NMR says:

    @Groat

    You’re always supportive, my friend. No doubt about that. Honestly, I love your attitude.

    I would’ve had no problem accepting Bylsma’s decision making for each point you listed IF he would’ve given MAF the night off as well. We all know the issue about goailie starts, whether we agree or disagree. If Dan’s gonna throw together a Spring Training lineup, fine. Just don’t start your ace on the mound.

    In much more important news:

    THE TOE TAP IS GONE!!!

    In what surely will go down as one of the biggest stories of the year, Tim Williams at Pirates Prospects has reported that Pedro Alvarez, at the instruction of Clint Hurdle, officially retired his self imposed off season toe tap prior to stroking two singles in yesterdays game.

    If the Pirates chances of success fluctuated like energy speculation, this news would have the equivalent affect of dropping oil to under $75 a barrell.

    Have no fear fellow Pirates fans. All is well with the world.

  67. Jandy says:

    Groat, I ain’t buyin’ it.
    If that was the case, why wasn’t Beej in goal last night. We need to see what he can do.
    Nope, not buyin’ it, but nice try =)

    radio, the Caps do have goaltending issues, but they still have offense. They won’t roll over and die in the regular season. But yes, they will get steam rolled in the playoffs.

    PPete, I guess we are about to see what BD is made of. I like him, so I hope he is up to it.

  68. Jandy says:

    NMR we think alike my friend (MAF vs Johnson)

    Toe tap gone??? Halleluia!

  69. tk, anyone who quotes “The Princess Bride” is elevated in my eyes!

    It makes me even willing to overlook your inordinate fascination with Therrien, who did not coach the last 4 1/2 months of the Cup run.

  70. NMR & Jandy,

    It’s very interesting that you both came up with the same objection. I did not want my post to be too long, so I eliminated my thoughts about Fleury.

    For the laboratory approach to work, in a real, competitive game, Fleury HAD to start.
    If it was Johnson——or even Theissen——then the goaltending would not be a “constant” in this lab experiment. Excuses like “we didn’t play our best goalie,” “Johnson was rusty coming off such a long layoff,” “Theissen is still developing,” “It would have been different if Marc Andre was in there” would have soured the experiment.

    Now . . . . the players have seen their own failings, and Bylsma and staff have seen——and captured on tape——all the different line combos: how they performed offensively AND defensively in a competitive game. The game, a true lab setting, accomplished all that it was designed for . . . . except a win. Yet winning this Islander game was secondary to Preparing to Win the Cup!

    My respect for Bylsma grew because of this game. It’s got to be hard to take chances like this in a real game. I’ll be surprised if Johnson does not start tonight.

  71. Jandy says:

    G2M2S, you make a good argument, but I’m still not buying it =)

    DB stated that his goal was to take first place in the Atlantic Division. Losing the last two games hardly takes him toward that goal.

    But, I’m still rooting for them =)

  72. NMR says:

    @Groat

    As a man of science, you know the way to my heart. Sorry, Jandy. I’m bailing ship.

  73. Jandy says:

    NMR, it’s ok, no worries lol

    It’s a bit harder to change my mind, I’m a bit stubborn ;)

  74. CWalton_67 says:

    Dejan, great piece on Paul Chryst. Maybe there is some hope for Pitt football. Profiles always among your best work, and this one was no exception. Really enjoyed it.

    Have to disagree on Staal with Crosby. Three world class centers is what makes the Pens unique and so hard to match against? What have you got against Sully? Fourth line? Really?

    Attention Penguins fans: Please step away from the bridges. Please step away from the bridges.

    #thatisall

 
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