Kukla's Korner Hockey
Entries with the tag: dan bylsma
Amongst the Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons' Sunday hockey and/or sports-related notes, which mostly involve the Toronto Maple Leafs:
If you break down the Cody Franson-Mike Santorelli trade, it’s basically Franson for a late first-round pick and Santorelli for the prospect Brendan Leipsic. The Leafs had a very extensive book on Leipsic, partly because personnel man Mark Hunter had his London Knights play against him in the Memorial Cup. Leipsic is known for three things: 1) being small; 2) being ultra-competitive; 3) having ridiculous ‘he could stickhandle in a phone booth’ hands...
Coaches that interest the Leafs: Still working division: Mike Babcock, Todd McLellan; Ken Hitchcock; Dave Tippett; Out of work division: Peter DeBoer. Seemingly no interest: Dan Bylsma...
The Leafs also have some interest in Alexander Burmistrov, the troubled high draft pick playing in the KHL, whose rights are owned by Winnipeg...
I'm intrigued by Burmistrov myself--he's 23 and liberally-listed at 6' and 179 pounds, and he hasn't exactly lit it up during two seasons with the Ak Bars Kazan, but he's still fleet-footed as all hell get out, and he could be somebody's next-year reclamation project.
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Tags: alexander+burmistrov, carey+price, cody+franson, dan+bylsma, dave+tippett, hart+trophy, ken+hitchcock, mike+babcock, mike+santorelli, montreal+canadiens, nashville+predators, pete+deboer, todd+mclellan, toronto+maple+leafs, winnipeg+jets
from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,
Which teams or players have surprised you in the Western Conference?
"I'll start in Nashville with David Poile and Peter Laviolette. Injuries have been a theme of the year and they had the injury to [Mike] Fisher, and it's almost not even talked about at this point in time with their team. They kind of take a flier on [Mike] Ribeiro and [Derek] Roy, and Ribeiro has obviously made good on it at this point in time on the top line with [Filip] Forsberg and [James] Neal. I think Pittsburgh and Nashville feel good about that trade right now, but it's brought a legitimized goal scorer to Nashville. That top line has been really good for them. I think there has always been talk about the way Nashville played defense, and I think they play defense differently now than they did with Barry Trotz. It's helped them be a better offensive team, a quicker transition team. You see that not only with the top line, but in waves. You thought they would be better and more offensive, but to do it in the Western Conference, where it's tougher, and to see them at the top is good.
"I think you expected to see Anaheim, San Jose and L.A. at the top of the Pacific. Anaheim is certainly there, but Vancouver, with Willie Desjardins coming in there, has changed the focus of its team to a four-line team and are winning games with contributions throughout the lineup. It has energized their top line. With [Radim] Vrbata going on there with the twins, they've been very good. And their power play has been rejuvenated. They've rode the play from their 12 forwards and their power play.
"But Calgary to me is maybe the biggest surprise in the League. It's not a new coach, but I think [Bob] Hartley has done a good job there....
How about in the Eastern Conference, has any team jumped out at you and either impressed you, surprised you or both?
"I think you expected Montreal to be second in the Atlantic, so that is not necessarily a surprise. They've been giving up that first goal, so it may be a concern down the road. You see Tampa Bay doing well and you expected them to be up there. Detroit, maybe a little higher, but not a surprise when you see [Pavel] Datsyuk, [Henrik] Zetterberg and [Justin] Abdelkader playing together, maybe the best line playing in the League when they play together. The one team you look at it and see how they do is Florida. They can be a surprise team in the East. But the team I would say is the biggest surprise in the East right now, and they're not far off, is the Boston Bruins. [Zdeno] Chara has been injured, so that's going to be a time period, maybe three more weeks without him, to see where they go....
from Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
Dan Bylsma hasn't gone anywhere. He has no plans to anytime soon. Pittsburgh is home and will be through hockey season, unless an NHL job opens.
Better be the right job, though.
Running the Penguins' bench for 478 games imparted the importance of stability upon Bylsma.
“I think we were a model,” Bylsma said over a wide-ranging conversation that lasted more than four hours. “We had stability, great stability. From ownership, from within the organization, with our players. I was fortunate to coach in a stable situation, and I shared that vision with my general manager — and I coached for a great general manager.
“If Ray Shero wasn't the best GM in hockey, he was definitely top three. That's what I believe.”
Penguins ownership stopped believing in Shero long before CEO David Morehouse fired him May 16. Different sides have different details about what happened and where it went wrong. The only consensus to emerge after the confounding crash is that nobody was happy with where things were.
Shero and Bylsma always figured last season was one of transition. They had a plan for this offseason. It was an intriguing one, but that job belongs to others now.
Sidney Crosby is currently in Vancouver, attending Hockey Canada's end-of-hockey-year awards banquet, and ESPN's Pierre LeBrun also happens to be attending the event, so LeBrun asked Crosby to weigh in on the Penguins' front-office tumult (i.e. the firing of Ray Shero and then Dan Bylsma):
"Yeah, it's a new situation for us," Crosby told ESPN.com on Monday, in town with other Canadian Olympic teammates to receive their championship gold medal rings.
"We haven't had a big change like that since going back to the year we won when you think about it. It's never something you want to see happen, Crosby said. "Obviously with the expectations being so high like they are in Pittsburgh, we understand that it comes with it. The unfortunate part is, most times the coach or the GM pays the price. It's definitely not something you want to be dealing with every year. We didn't do a good enough job. Personally, it wasn't the playoff I wanted to have. It's something I have to learn from and definitely be better for it."
Crosby, off to Las Vegas on Tuesday where he's favored to win his second career Hart Trophy as NHL MVP, said he's spoken with both Ray Shero and Dan Bylsma since their firings. The Penguins hired Jim Rutherford to replace Shero, but remain in the market for a new head coach.
"Yeah, I mean we won a Stanley Cup together. You feel like you let them down," Crosby said. "As a player you have to get the job done. You feel a sense of responsibility for that and like I said, the coach and the GMs are usually the ones that pay the price. We had some good years together. You know that they'll be working pretty soon and be part of another team. But it's still not easy."
Crosby and LeBrun continue...
from Jim Jamieson of the Vancouver Province,
That the Canucks management team of President Trevor Linden and GM Jim Benning are talking to Bylsma, the former Stanley Cup winner (2009) and NHL coach of the year (2011) with Pittsburgh, should be no surprise. The surprise may be that Bylsma, recently fired by the Penguins, appears not to be the frontrunner in what is shaping up as a comprehensive search that will include as many as eight candidates.
Linden said this week that the coaching search may not conclude until after the NHL Entry Draft, June 27-28 in Philadelphia. That likely means Bylsma won’t be their man, as he reportedly had an excellent interview with Florida GM Dale Tallon last week and is believed to be the frontrunner there.
continue for more on the Canucks' coaching search...
Updated 2x at 9:19 PM: Paul did a helluva job of covering the "gist" of the GM's meetings, but here are some items that I noticed on Twitter and feel merit mentioning, starting with Craig Custance's chat with Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman...
In Penguins and Maple Leafs news, from Sportsnet's Chris Johnston...
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Tags: brooks+orpik, bryan+murray, buffalo+sabres, chicago+blackhawks, dale+tallon, dan+bylsma, dave+nonis, david+poile, florida+panthers, gerard+gallant, james+neal, jason+spezza, jim+rutherford, jonathan+toews, marc+crawford, matt+niskanen, nashville+predators, ottawa+senators, patrick+kane, pittsburgh+penguins, ron+wilson, shea+weber, stan+bowman, tim+murray, tom+renney, toronto+maple+leafs
The Florida Sun-Sentinel's Harvey Filakov reports two important items regarding the Florida Panthers' coaching and draft plans.
First, Filakov reports that the Panthers will interview former Penguins coach Dan Bylsma before circling back to a set of coaches who will speak with the Panthers' new ownership regarding their coaching philosophies...
The Panthers coaching search will pick up steam this week as six front-runners for the vacancy, including fired Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma, will meet with the team's brain-trust in New York City, according to a team source.
Other than Bylsma, the other five leading candidates have all met or spoke to General Manager Dale Tallon, but now will also sit down with the team's co-owners, Vinnie Viola and Doug Cifu, as well as CEO/President Rory Babich.
Those repeaters are believed to be Ron Wilson, Canadiens' assistant Gerard Gallant, former Stanley Cup — winning coach Marc Crawford, and Red Wings' assistants Tom Renney and Bill Peters.
While Filakov continues at significant length regarding the coaching search and the Panthers' hopes that they can land one of Brooks Orpik or Matt Niskanen if Bylsma joins the Panthers, this tidbit about the Panthers' draft plans is a wee bit more newsworthy:
from Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province,
If Canucks general manager Jim Benning likes the core of this team as much as he claims to, it would appear there should now be a clear frontrunner for the club’s vacant head coaching job.
That would be Dan Bylsma, the recently deposed coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who won a Stanley Cup in 2009 after he took over from Michel Therrien in the middle of the season; a man who is said to be a clone of Alain Vigneault. He’s also a man who was none too thrilled to be kept hanging around as long as he was by the Pens, only to be dumped on Friday, but there was nothing he could do about it.
But we digress. Who better to follow AV here in Vancouver than the same guy who had great success following his body double, Therrien, in Pittsburgh — the one thorny year of John Tortorella perhaps the only thorny issue spoiling what could be the perfect succession plan.
Since that wonderful first year in Pittsburgh, obviously things haven’t gone as well for Bylsma, but there is a pretty good explanation for just about every failing the team had under his watch.
Well this took five minutes...Per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Rob Rossi, the Penguins may or may not clear the coaching and managerial decks after yet another playoff failure:
Penguins ownership will consider a sweeping overhaul that could include terminating general manager Ray Shero in addition to Dan Bylsma and the members of the coaching staff, multiple sources told the Tribune-Review. Ownership specifically is concerned about a perceived lack of accountability for players, overall team toughness and unproductive drafts, the sources said.
The sources also said Penguins ownership might not want to undergo a complete front-office shakeup with only about a month before the NHL Entry Draft.
No decisions have been made, and they will not be rushed, the sources said.
George here on the late shift. I'm getting ready to wake up a little bit early to watch Wings players take part in the World Championships, which begin on Friday. The European press tends to look at the NHL playoffs from a rather Machiavellian perspective--sometimes actively rooting against the teams whose players include important national team contributors--and as such, I had one thought as Evgeni Malkin's 1-0 goal slithered past a goaltender who's more or less been left to his devices in Henrik Lunqvist:
"[Team Sweden coach and GM] Par Marts must be watching this game thinking, 'I can get Henke to Minsk by Sunday!'"
The Penguins defeated Lundqvist's Rangers 4-2, taking a 3-games-to-none series lead, and while the Penguins lost Brooks Orpik's services, the Rangers' combination of struggling stars on offense and a sometimes-shaky defense reminds me of--dare I say it?--the Wings-Bruins series.
But there are times that internet chatter drives you to post an article, and in this case, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Rob Rossi's confirmation that the Penguins are hot on Ryan Kesler's trail merits mentioning...
Vancouver center Ryan Kesler is being pursued aggressively by Penguins general manager Ray Shero, multiple sources told the Tribune-Review on Saturday.
A proposed deal would send Kesler to the Penguins in exchange for center Brandon Sutter, two 2014 draft picks — likely a first- and third-round — and the Canucks' choice of defensemen Simon Despres or Brian Dumoulin, the sources said.
It is possible the deal could involve another Canucks and Penguins player, but Shero was looking only to acquire Kesler, the sources said.
And while I can't quote all of Rossi's article, noting of Olympic ties between Kesler, U.S. Olympic team coach Dan Bylsma and consultant/Pens GM Ray Shero included, you may take this for what you will...
The video is just short of 22 minutes.
from Michael Farber of Sports Illustrated,
The stoic man behind the Team USA bench -- dark-framed glasses, arms folded across his chest, tight expression -- used to run naked around NHL dressing rooms banging on a Gatorade tub with a hockey stick to get his teammates pumped for the game.
He has co-authored four books, more than some hockey coaches have read.
He buried the Red Wings in the 2009 Stanley Cup finals months after landing his first -- and five years later -- only NHL head coaching job.
Eleven years earlier, he had buried a daughter he would never know.
These seemingly disparate threads weave into a rich tapestry of a man who deked coming out of college -- he interviewed with top-six accounting firms out of college and ended up a bottom-six forward -- and went top shelf in life. Dan Bylsma is not a Renaissance Man.
The Wall Street Journal's Brian Costa spoke with Nashville Predators GM and Team USA GM David Poile and several of his likely Olympic team players about the differences between the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver and those to be held in Sochi in February. He brings up one point we've already heard being discussed--the soccer-like style and pace of play that European teams tend to play on 200-foot-long by 100-foot-wide rinks (as opposed to North American rinks, which are 85 feet wide)...
The difference between Vancouver, where the U.S. won silver in 2010, and Sochi isn't so much about geography as it is space. In the U.S. and Canada, the standard rink size is 85 feet wide. In Europe, rinks are 100 feet wide. A smaller playing surface lends itself to the more aggressive, bruising style of play that dominates the NHL. On the larger European surface, it's more a game of speed and finesse.
"The difference is a lot bigger than fans think," said Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman and Team USA hopeful Paul Martin. "You have more room to cover, especially around the nets."
And he duly notes the reason why Team Canada's World Junior team now brings its own chefs to overseas tournaments, and the vast majority of players will have difficulty finding palatable food, "comfort zones" in terms of their accommodations and might deal with a bit of culture shock in Sochi, where we've been told that "there's nothing to do" at the Olympic facilities in terms of filling free time because they're still being constructed:
“There may be a desire or a gut reaction or an outside need to say you need to blow it up and change this, change that. I don’t think that breaking up this group of players – they’re quality people – is something anyone would want to do. It’s a team that’s won more games than almost every other team in the National Hockey League and more playoff games than any other team the last seven or eight years. There’s disappointment by not winning and going to the finals and winning the Stanley Cup, but the group I think is happy to be together to try to do it again.”
-Dan Bylsma, head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins. More on the Pens from John Kekis of the Globe and Mail.
from Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
Dan Bylsma talked Sunday as if he knows he will be coaching the Penguins next season. He flat said of Marc-Andre Fleury, "He's our No. 1 goalie. He will be going forward. ... He's going to play great. There's no question about that. He's going to win a lot of hockey games for this team." Bylsma went on to say that Tomas Vokoun will return to his backup role next season. It's hard to believe he went public with that information without approval from general manager Ray Shero. Actually, it's hard to believe Shero didn't tell him to say it considering Bylsma had no confidence in Fleury in these playoffs and played him in relief in just one of 11 games after benching him for Vokoun after Game 4 of the first-round series against the New York Islanders.
Bylsma, whose job security has been the No. 1 topic around town since the Penguins were eliminated Friday night by the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference final, said he had not talked to Shero about his future. That's also hard to believe. Shero was unavailable for comment because of a personal situation and won't address the media until Wednesday. It won't be surprising if he announces a contract extension for Bylsma, who's believed to have one year left on his current deal. No one wants a coach in that situation.
Extending -- not firing -- Bylsma will be the right thing for Shero to do.
from Brittany Goncar and Sam Kasan of the Penguins website,
Sidney Crosby spoke with the media following Friday’s practice…
On if he heard John Tortorella’s comments:
No, I vaguely heard what he said. I figured he was just blowing up. I’m sure he’ll apologize today about it and everything will be forgotten.
On himself and Evgeni Malkin being called a whiner:
I don’t know what he’s talking about. I mean, if you want you can put a camera on us all game, put a camera on (Ryan Callahan) all game. You’ll see who’s over there more. He should worry about his own players.
On if it’s a gamesmanship:
Yeah, a lot of it. I don’t know when this all started, if this is part of the new tactics in the playoffs, but it’s garbage. The games played on the ice. You get all this stuff going on. It really is garbage. It’s nonsense and if they want to do it great, but I’m not going to waste my time answering questions about it all the time. It’s getting pretty old.
Dan Bylsma also talked after practice…
“Especially in the summertime, I try not to get involved in this type of, ‘How are you feeling’ conversation.
“There are things I would normally talk about with Sid and those are the captain’s stuff like scheduling with the team. If I was to talk to him now, I wouldn’t say, ‘How do you feel today?’ I would say, ‘Where are you now?’ I would ask, ‘When are you coming to Pittsburgh?’ I would ask, ‘How many fish did you catch up in Nova Scotia?’ “
—Penguins coach Dan Bylsma, on Sidney Crosby [NHL.com]
Though I try to avoid posting a lot of the same things that you might have already seen on the Penguins official site, I did receive the embed codes to the videos from today’s pressers from my predecessor, Tony Ferrante, so I figured that I would post them for you all. He was good enough to send them… I will post them!
I already wrote about Shero’s presser and shared pertinent quotes, but there is no harm in seeing the entire interviews… at this point, the most interesting commentary contained there in is likely to be Bylsma’s thoughts on some other injured players like Dustin Jeffrey and recent signee Jason Williams. However, it is worth hearing the optimism that I mentioned in Shero’s voice for yourselves…
Hypothetically, you’re talking about a guy in his last year in the National Hockey League had 75 points. That’s leading our team last year. That’s an intriguing thing to think about. He’s a power-play guy. What you saw him do in the World Championship against NHL-caliber players was nothing short of outstanding on a bigger ice surface. Those are intriguing things to think about hypothetically. It’s tough not to think about adding 75 points to your roster if it’s something you’re capable of doing.
-Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma. More from Bylsma on numerous topics at Penguins.com.
From Elliotte Friedman at CBC.ca:
Dan Bylsma is as measured and supportive as a coach gets in the NHL. For him to say, “I don’t think you can talk about eliminating headshots as an organization and not expect that to be examined,” well, it shows why Campbell doesn’t have to worry about Shero and Lemieux defending Cooke now.
No way Shero could ever go to another GM meeting arguing a no-tolerance head shot rule if he fought against a heavy suspension this time. He wouldn’t be taken seriously. And Lemieux loses all moral ground about safety if he fights for this player at this time.
The Penguins simply can’t trust Cooke, can’t depend on him. So they’ll accept Campbell’s challenge, stand back and await the decision.
Campbell’s been thrown a belt-high fastball. Now he’s got to crush it.
from the Pittsburgh Penguins,
Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma has agreed to a three-year contract extension through the 2013-14 season, it was announced today by Executive Vice President and General Manager Ray Shero.
Bylsma, 40, led the Penguins to a Stanley Cup in 2009 and has his team in the hunt for the top spot in the Eastern Conference this year despite an injury-depleted lineup.
“Dan has very quickly established himself as one of the best coaches in the National Hockey League,” Shero said. “He has been a perfect fit for our organization since day one, and we look forward to having him leading our team for the next three seasons.
“I think what we’ve been able to accomplish so far his season, even with players like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal out of the lineup for extended periods of time, is a testament to his coaching system, his adaptability, and his composure under pressure.”
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
You see, everything changes when you win a Cup. The expectations of the fans and media change. The expectations of the players in the dressing room change. Everyone wants more, everyone expects more. But here’s the thing about Bylsma: he may be the one constant in that complicated equation.
“You have to know your foundation, who you are, what you are about,” Bylsma said in an interview this week. “And you have to go about acting that way regardless of the situation.”
He’s talking as much about life as he is the situation that now confronts his team, because for Bylsma, these are the very basics tenets of things like character and work ethic, qualities that transcend a sport.
Sitting up in the stands at the Bell Centre this week, GM Ray Shero was watching the man he plucked out of Wilkes-Barre last February to lead his team after the players had seemed to tune out former coach Michel Therrien. One of the things—and there are many—Shero likes about Bylsma is how he responds to a tough loss. He moves on.
“...He made a difference for me in the way that he played and approached the game. He found a way to get himself into an NHL lineup with what I would say not above average skills. He asked a lot of great questions. And those guys like that are on the bubble, they ask a lot of questions because they want the coach to notice them all the time and he was good at that.”
-Bliues Coach Andy Murray speaking about player Dan Bylsma who he coached when Dan was with the Kings. More from Andy Murray by Seth Rorabaugh of Empty Netters.
from Seth Rorabaugh of Empty Netters at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
Dan Bylsma had quite a debut in his first season as an NHL coach. And as Dave Molinari points out today, it’ll be a challenge to follow up the team’s Stanley Cup run in his second season.
Were Bylsma able to win the Stanley Cup next (this) season, he’d be only the third coach in NHL history to start off his career with two championships.
Here’s a look at the other 13 coaches in league history who win the Cup their rookie year and how they followed it up:
from Mark Brooky of the Grand Haven Tribune,
The Grand Haven native brought the Stanley Cup, the prize for winning the NHL championship, to the city’s Municipal Marina.
Bylsma is head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who won the Cup by beating the Detroit Red Wings in seven games in June.
He took it fishing on Lake Michigan this morning aboard the Tammy Too III, then hoisted it from the back of the boat down the Grand Haven channel to the marina. The NHL Eastern Conference trophy followed in another charter boat.
The line to view the trophy up close began forming around 11 a.m. — and, by the time Bylsma carried the trophy from the charter boat docks to the marina lawn at noon, it wound east of the Chinook Pier buildings.
continued with a cool video too…
Q. Win or lose tonight, does it feel weird for you to know that this is all going to be done? Some of the players talk about win or lose, day off tomorrow. Is it weird for you after your whole season the way it’s gone and coming here?
COACH BYLSMA: How do they know I’m going to give them a day off (laughing).
Q. Fair point.
COACH BYLSMA: It does seem weird. You know, you battle and you win to go further and further and further. You know, you go to Game 7 in round two to get to the next round. You seem like you’re playing for your team’s life. Now it will be over after tonight. It’s going to be a good thing for one team. The other team’s going to wish it was a nine?game series.
Q. What is the mood of the team today?
COACH BYLSMA: Yeah, you know, loose is an indication that they have to refocus. You know, they’re enjoying it. They enjoy what this team is about, has been about three, four months of coming to the rink, working, focused on how we need to play and enjoying that process. You know, you don’t ?? there are bumps and there are difficulties, and it’s a struggle. You know, there’s sacrifice, but it’s also there is enjoyment in that room. There was enjoyment in the guys today, for sure.
Q. You mentioned last night after the game about telling the guys for Game 7 to go out, concentrate on trying to win, not to lose. When you got here in mid February, was that something overall you had to convince these guys? Because I know talking to a lot of them, they were saying how they felt like they were just trying to stay afloat, the difference between staying afloat and trying to win?
COACH BYLSMA: It wasn’t hard convincing them, I don’t think. The game by nature is aggressive, and in?your?face and confrontational. And if you’re not playing it that way, you know it. You know when another team’s taking it to you. You know when you’re waiting or letting the play come to you.
As players, every player in that room has had success at some point in time due to their skill level or the teams they’ve played on of being aggressive and taking the play to the other team. That’s the way the game should be played and needs to be played to tip the scales in your favor.
So it wasn’t a hard thing to do to say let’s get on our toes and let’s go after this thing and play the right way and get to the offensive zone, and play at a pace that makes it tough for other teams to play with us.
I think the biggest thing about what happened since February is how quickly the guys said that’s the way we need to play.
Q. You’ve been bugging me about asking a question all week. So here it is. Is Sykora in, and please give me the right answer?
COACH BYLSMA: The right answer, and it always is, is game time decision. He’ll be out there for warm-ups.
Q. You’ve used Crosby and Malkin together sometimes. Is it reasonable to expect we’ll see more of both of them either together or in different line combination?
COACH BYLSMA: I don’t think it will be any different than what you’ve seen. There are certain times when the match-up favors that situation where they get out there together. But again, there have been times where they’ve played very well together. And there are times when it’s better keeping them apart.
So sometimes in the game dictates where it’s a good time to get them out together for a particular situation. And that will continue to be how I look at it for tonight’s game.
Q. Can you address just the advantage that the home team has had winning every game in this series? Are the match-ups that critical in this series? Does that have anything to do with it? Or what is your estimation of why the home team’s got everything?
COACH BYLSMA: I don’t believe it’s the match-ups. You know, that does help out, does maybe - easier to get into your rhythm with your team and what your players are expecting because you get to make the final change.
But I think you’re talking about two teams that are playing pretty hard with skilled players, and it’s even enough that the home ice is an advantage for you.
I mean, playoffs it’s not always the case that home ice is a strict advantage or much easier to play at, but we played two pretty good games in Game 1 and Game 2, they were better. They were better in and around their net. They got those wins. We came home and played two pretty good games. And we got the advantage with two victories. And Game 5, they obviously were much better than us, and it’s that close.
Now we have the task of having to come back here and use the home ice advantage, use the energy of our fans, and use our surroundings to draw even in the series and prove that we’re that close.
Q. I was curious, were you in the building last year in Game 6 when the Wings won the Cup?
COACH BYLSMA: I was not. We were in our own playoff battle with Wilkes?Barre in Chicago.
Q. Do you have a sense of what that was like for the players on this team who were here to watch the Wings win a championship in this building? And does that have any bearing on what you do between now and Tuesday night?
COACH BYLSMA: I don’t have a sense, other than it happening in ‘03, when we were in Game 7. We were on the road. It wasn’t our home building. But I can remember vividly, too vividly, what it’s like to have the clock ticking down and the other team. We were down 3?0 in the game in New Jersey.
So then to have the pomp and circumstance afterwards. So I do know what that is like personally. But that’s playoff hockey. You’re faced with elimination games and you’re faced with them on the road and at home sometimes. How you deal with them, and the focus you can have on playing your game largely dictates how those games unfold. And some teams rise to the occasion, some teams relish in that pressure and come out with big performances. But they are tough situations to be in, and we’re faced with one in Game 6.
Q. Seemed like you guys got out of the gate really fast. The first two or three minutes, looked as though you were off and running, what happened after that?
COACH BYLSMA: Well, I think we did start off well. I think we didn’t shoot the puck well enough or often enough when we had those chances. We were looking for the extra pass, when we had opportunities to get pucks on them early. Didn’t quite connect, and didn’t quite create the opportunities because we were looking to pass.
But, again, we came out skating well, and getting in the offensive zone and creating some scoring chances. You know, the game, they got that first goal, and then they got the goal on the power play right after the quick change. Quick up, and got that goal after the kill. That would have gotten us momentum, and they got that goal. I thought that was a big goal.
Q. Can you compare what you sensed from your team in terms of what it’s thinking about right now, and the one you played for in Anaheim going into that Game 5?
COACH BYLSMA: I wasn’t ready for that one (laughing). You know, I think you know you have to win one on the road as the road team. In both the situations, you feel like you miss those opportunities in Game 1, you had to really fight back to get back to even. And this is a game where we think we’re going to have to play our best.
We think they’re going to come out really hard, and we think they’re going to play a very good game after having regrouped and coming home with their fans here. And this is going to be, in my estimation, probably the hardest fought game will be here tonight. To this point.
Q. Can you talk about the energy or level of freshness that your team has right now after playing four games in six nights?
COACH BYLSMA: If Geno could have scored that goal at the end of the second, I would have liked to see them keep the roof on this place, because it was hopping in the second period, and that was a big part of our energy.
Q. Jordan was playing well versus Carolina, was everywhere on the ice. Now we don’t see him as much. Not as successful. What’s going on with his game?
COACH BYLSMA: I thought Game 3 was much improved over Game 1 and Game 2 from Jordan. Again, each team poses a different kind of obstacle down low in the offensive zone, which is where Jordan is really good. And some teams are physical, some teams are a little more passive?zone type of defensive zone coverage. For a guy like Jordan, who needs physical contact to be good down low, to protect the puck, it’s not there. And it’s just been a bit of an adjustment from the last series to this series.
Another area where the game is tough against Detroit is the neutral zone. They have guys back, four guys back a lot. So the speed through the neutral zone that he did get in other series, it’s tougher to come by right now. So those are areas that we all have to fight through.
He was better in Game 3, and he assured me he’d be better in Game 4 today in morning skate.
Q. Talk about players, as Playoffs go on, having to do more and the competition becomes more key. Is that true for coaching? Do you have to do different things at this stage that maybe you didn’t have to do in the first round?
COACH BYLSMA: I think it often depends on your opponent. And there are coaches that like to make a lot of adjustments. There are coaches who, last night Zetterberg was definitely, obviously coming on the ice and off the ice at key moments trying to get different match?ups. That poses a different situation than some of the other things early on. I don’t think it would be ?? I don’t think it’s just because it’s the Finals. I think it’s because it’s Mike Babcock and the Red Wings.
So each series is a little bit different. And this one is presenting different situations.
Q. Discounting the final 19 seconds of the second game, there had only been five minor penalties called in the first two games of this series. Do you think the officiating started has changed from the regular season, and does this favor one team or the other in this series?
COACH BYLSMA: I think the Red Wings power play numbers stand for themselves in terms of whether we want them to get more power plays or less. Our power play has been good in the last second half of the playoffs here. They’re talented players.
But I think the standard that’s been called in the game has been fair. I mean, is there penalties on each side ?? as a coach, you can go through the game and say that was a penalty, that wasn’t a penalty. But if you’re honest, you can usually say that about both sides.
You know, as a coach, you typically want to point out the ones that their team does against yours and you rarely want to point out the ones that your team does against theirs. So I think the standard on the ice has been pretty consistent for both teams.
From today’s press conference with Penguins’ coach Dan Bylsma. Transcript provided courtesy of the NHL.
Q. Can you give your impression of where Malkin and Crosby are at in terms of potential level of frustration? We saw some at the end of both games maybe from both of them. Where do you think they’re at? And do you say anything to them going into tomorrow night?
COACH BYLSMA: You worry as a coach about frustration, and frustration is when you can’t let go of previous events.
From Eric Duhatschek of the Globe & Mail:
Dan Bylsma is the new kid in town, the flavour of the month, the rookie who in his first full season as the head coach of his own team, has gone from running the Pittsburgh Penguins’ minor-league affiliate in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., to getting the parent club to within four wins of a Stanley Cup championship.
Not bad for a former NHL journeyman who was once turned down for a job by a Minnesota prep school because of his comparative lack of experience, but now has a chance to be the first rookie coach since Jean Perron in 1986 to lead his team to a Stanley Cup.
from George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press,
Retired high school golf coach Cornie Vantol isn’t surprised that Dan Bylsma has led the Pittsburgh Penguins to a Stanley Cup finals in his first season as a head coach.
Vantol remembers Bylsma, who’s from Grand Haven, making an impact in his freshman year on the Muskegon Western Michigan Christian varsity golf team. Scott Bylsma, one of Dan’s older brothers, won the Class D individual state championship in 1980 with a score of 78. Dan took home the individual title four years later with a 72.
“I can understand that he’s a great coach,” said Vantol, who was the golf coach at WMC from 1984 to 2002. “He was a bright student. He knew the golf game very well. He didn’t need much coaching.”
Q. Just curious if you’re getting to a point or would you like to get to a point where you go back to six defensemen? And sister question, did you assess Sergei Gonchar’s play since his injury?
DAN BYLSMA: Again, you know, the reasons why we entertained going to seven, they’re still there to varying degrees. Things have changed, but we’re still contemplating that situation.
You know, I think at some point we’d get back to six.
Sergei’s play – I think we’ve benefitted a lot from him on the power play. The way he brings the puck up the ice and in the zone. Just knowing the nuisances of getting the puck to different areas that we need to try to have success.
So he’s big in that regard.
Q. How do you try to keep the focus going when you’re up three games in this series without looking at the next one?
COACH BYLSMA: I think the task at hand is clear. You know the series is 3?0. We know this team’s not going to quit. We know that’s their trademark, they’re going to keep coming at us. They’ve proven that even though the games have ended up with lots of goals on the board. They’ve been fighting right to the end.
The building was loud last night. I just watched the first period. The 7:00 minute mark of the first period their fans were really into it. The building was loud. We were under some pressure, and we know that’s what’s going to happen again come Tuesday.
While we have a lead, we know we need to get one more win to get this thing done with. Right now is better than waiting. So we’ll be ready on Tuesday for what we need to do.
from Gene Collier of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
“This day and age, it’s like the old Yogi-ism, 90 percent of the game is half mental, and a lot of that is true,” said Penguins defenseman Mark Eaton after another of Bylsma’s upbeat practices. “A month ago this was a pretty fragile hockey team with a timid attitude. Now it’s like we feel there’s nothing we can’t do. We can get behind, come back and win, but it was a long time coming.
“I think everyone knew the team had this kind of potential. Going back to the beginning of the year, we knew this team was capable of playing this kind of hockey.”...
“At times before he got here,” Sidney Crosby said yesterday, “we could all look around the room and see guys who could give more than they were giving. It wasn’t easy for him. It’s been a combination of things, but part of it was we had to face up to the fact that we weren’t doing everything we could do.”
from Sam Kasan at PittsburghPenguins.com,
General manager Ray Shero tapped Bylsma to take over the Penguins, who are five points behind the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, and lead the club to a postseason berth.
“That’s our goal,” Shero said. “It’s been uphill battle. This is a resilient group. I’m looking for Dan to come in with the coaches here to rally the troops. We’re looking to make some progress here and make a push. “
“To have an opportunity to coach a team with this much talent and this much possibility is a great chance for me,” Bylsma said. “I look at the players and the roster and I look at a group that can win games right now. We need to do that starting (Monday) on the Island. We can do this but the players have to believe that we can do this. That’s the approach that we’ll take.”
added 8:24am, from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
They have the 20th-ranked penalty-killing unit and are 21st in the NHL in goals against per game after being one of the top teams in the East defensively last season.
So Therrien was an easy mark.
He didn’t have enough chips in the bank. He wasn’t GM Ray Shero’s guy, having preceded Shero in Pittsburgh by half a season.
He was gruff and combustible and sometimes hard on people around him.
And you know what? He may have also saved this franchise.
added 8:29am, from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
That is why the finger of blame can swing toward Lemieux, the minority owner who has a huge say in running the team thanks to his status in Pittsburgh as a minor deity.
Almost one year ago, the Penguins were the most improved team in the NHL. But they had a couple of shortcomings that were making the ascension to champions less than a sure thing.
Dan Bylsma has been named interim head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins, replacing Michel Therrien, it was announced tonight by Executive Vice President and General Manager Ray Shero.
Bylsma, 38, has been serving as head coach of the team’s American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He will coach his first game with the Penguins Monday at 2 p.m. against the New York Islanders at Nassau Coliseum.
Therrien was relieved of his duties this evening, and assistant coach Andre Savard was reassigned within the organization.