Should the Penguins fire Bylsma?

Should the Penguins fire Bylsma?
June 8, 2013, 10:30 am
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It’s a Saturday and this is no time for a trivia question, but  what the heck…

Over the past three seasons, which team has played in more Stanley Cup playoff games?

a. Pittsburgh Penguins

b. Philadelphia Flyers

c. New Jersey Devils

d. Washington Capitals

You guessed it. Thanks to the Boston Bruins’ four-game sweep of the Penguins, your beloved Capitals have played in more post-season games [30] than the Penguins [28], Devils [24] and Flyers [22].

In fact, only two teams in the Eastern Conference – the Bruins [48] and the Rangers [37] have played in more post-season games than the Caps over the past three springs.

But the NHL is all about results and that’s why Penguins coach Dan Bylsma could join John Tortorella on the Eastern Conference chopping block.

Since winning the Stanley Cup in 2009, the Penguins have  won just three of seven playoff series and own a playoff record of 20-21.

This season was supposed to be different, especially after adding Jarome Iginla, Brenden Morrow and Douglas Murray at the trade deadline and having a healthy Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin for the post-season.

But after getting past the Islanders in six games and mowing down the Senators in five, the Penguins managed just two goals in four games against the swarming, stinging, relentless B’s.

Following his team’s 1-0 loss in Boston Friday night Bylsma was asked if he could have done anything differently.

“We didn't do the job,” he said. “We didn't come up with those situations in any of the games.  Now I'll look at some of those situations. … Certainly, a goal in [Games] 3 and 4 would have been a different factor for us, if we were able to get that.  We weren't able to do that, so... “

So now general manager Ray Shero has to decide whether to cut ties with a 42-year-old coach who won the Jack Adams Trophy in 2010 and is regarded as one of the brightest and most articulate in the game.

Would you? Join the conversation below.

Meanwhile, here are some bytes to chew on from the shorter-than-expected Eastern Conference Final, courtesy NHL Public Relations:

McWho? Boston defenseman Adam McQuaid scored the series-clinching goal, his first game-winner in his 48-game postseason career. A nominee for this year’s Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, McQuaid suffered a season-threatening injury in September when his right arm grew increasingly swollen and he was diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, a condition that causes dangerous blood clots. After undergoing two emergency surgeries to remove the blood clots, he was deemed unfit to continue his normal offseason workouts in order to give his body adequate time to heal. McQuaid’s dedication to his rehabilitation efforts hastened his recovery time and he skated alongside his teammates on the opening night of the 2012-13 season. He played in 32 regular-season games, registering 1-3—4 while averaging 14:17 of time on ice.

Tuukka time: Goaltender Tuukka Rask recorded the first two shutouts of his playoff career while stopping 134 of the 136 shots [.985] he faced in Boston’s four-game sweep of the Penguins. Only two other goaltenders in NHL history have recorded all four wins in a playoff sweep while allowing no more than two goals: Detroit’s Terry Sawchuk in the 1952 Stanley Cup Final versus Montreal [two goals allowed] and Anaheim’s Jean-Sebastien Giguere in the 2003 Western Conference Final against Minnesota [one]. 
Getting ahead: The Bruins did not trail in any of the four games of the Eastern Conference Final. They are the 16th team in NHL history to complete a four-game playoff sweep without ever trailing, but only the second since 2001 – the other instance was in the 2009 Western Conference Quarterfinals when Detroit defeated Columbus. Boston’s only previous four-game sweep in which it never trailed was against Toronto in the 1969 Quarterfinals. 

Stats and stuff: The Bruins outscored the Penguins, 12-2, in their four-game series. Pittsburgh managed just one goal over the final 106:28 of the series and never led at any point [tied for 75:02 of the 275:19 of game play]. Entering the Eastern Conference Final, the Penguins led the NHL with an average of 4.27 goals per game and were on pace to become the first team in the last 20 years to average four or more goals in the postseason [1993 Penguins, 4.17]. They finished the playoffs with an average of 3.27 goals per game over 15 contests. Pittsburgh became the fifth team in NHL history to score two or fewer goals in a best-of-seven series.  The Minnesota Wild scored one goal in four games against Anaheim in 2003; the Flyers scored two in five games against Ottawa in 2002; the Canadiens had two in four games against the Red Wings in 1952; and the Bruins scored two in four games against Toronto in 1935.

Broom time: The Penguins were swept for just the third time in franchise history and first time since the 1979 Quarterfinals versus the Bruins. The Penguins had been shut out just twice in their previous 147 games [regular season and playoffs] entering the Eastern Conference Final.

Zero power: The Bruins [0-for-13] and Penguins [0-for-15] combined to go 0-for-28 on the power play in the Eastern Conference Final, marking the first playoff series without a power-play goal since the 1988 Adams Division Final between the Bruins and Canadiens.