Firing Dan Bylsma? Penguins Fans Have This One Backwards.
There is currently a movement in the city of Pittsburgh that is headstrong on firing coach Dan Bylsma. Despite having the most injuries in the league and the likely probability of finishing second in the conference, the fans seem to have had enough.
Enough, you hear it time and time again. The callers on talk radio say they have had enough of Dan Bylsma, that his system clearly doesn’t work.
Enough of the consistent playoff appearances despite the massive injuries this team has suffered in the recent seasons?
Enough of the team overachieving despite having a clear lack of back end talent left from subpar drafting strategies?
In 2010-2011, the Penguins lost both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin at the half way point of the season. They combined to play just 84 games on the season, the same number of games that Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg have combined to play this season.
The Penguins finished with 106 points that season and Dan Bylsma won the Jack Adams trophy as the league’s best coach. Things have not changed much; Dan Bylsma continues to win with four top six forwards and a roster full of fourth line players.
You see, the fans think they have had enough, but the fans do not know a damn thing. Dan Bylsma brought together a team that currently has used over ten players from their AHL affiliate. In doing so, he has coached his team to great success.
It is not his fault that this team is starting to slow up a bit. It is almost April and the Penguins have yet to get back all of their major players, the recent loss of Malkin being another huge blow.
It is not his fault that Ray Shero continues to fail to address the bottom six forward core. The Penguins are currently playing with two number one lines and two fourth lines. Brandon Sutter has not developed past a decent third line point producer and he certainly has not become the shut down center Bylsma can count on in difficult situations.
Instead, Dan Bylsma has had to use Crosby as his shutdown center and us Sutter in neutral situations.
This has led to a slip of production in Crosby’s game, yet, he is still on pace to win the Art Ross by more than 15 points. With Crosby anchoring the Penguins best defensive line and scoring line Dan Bylsma, at the expense of his captain, has created the easiest situation for the bottom six to produce.
The problem is, the bottom six is just not good enough nor deep enough to produce.
There has been a combination of 16 players who played in the bottom six this season for Pittsburgh, totaling 451 games played. Combined, this grouping has combined for 41 goals on the season and 98 points. These 16 players had 451 combined games and only out produced their captain’s year to date production by 7 goals and three points.
If Sidney Crosby had Pascal Dupuis all season, there is little doubt he would have single handedly bested the totals of the entire bottom six combined.
That is pathetic.
How can Ray Shero sit back and allow this to happen? How does this blame fall on Dan Byslma?
You cannot fire a coach that finds a way to win 50 games in a season despite this glaring evidence of a poorly constructed team.
This time, the blame falls on Ray Shero.