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12-01-2010, 10:45 PM
Tender Rip
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Originally Posted by HandshakeLine View Post
Fans expect perfection. Fan are also notoriously poor judges of what is possible and how much effect any one player, coach, scout or whatever has. How much coaching can solve a hot goaltender, or fix a player's missed execution on the ice is up for debate, but you and I both know that these things are much more mutually-exclusive than you're giving them credit for.

I'm not saying "don't talk about the coaching," because that's equally stupid. But perspective is necessary, and that's something in rare supply on this board these days.

There's very finite limits to coaching, as much as fans don't want to admit it, since it muddies the waters up on what should be a nice, clean rant.
OK, that's a dose of perspective and rationality I guess.
It is also quite bereft of any actual argument as to what makes Bylsma good, bad or anything in between, and reads as a dispassionate lecture saying its hard to say anything definite, so lets say very little in a balanced yet wordy fashion .

I would say that there's nothing balanced about equivocating on Bylsma/Babcock/Bowman though .

Anyway.... logical dilemma: Most people here would say that Barry Trotz is a better coach than Dan Bylsma. Yet Trotz team should never be ahead of this Penguins team in points and rarely ever is, nor does Nashville get anywhere in the playoffs and never did.
Obviously, in order to support that Trotz is better than Bylsma (or Therrien for that matter) we have to go by other parameters than W's and playoff success. We have to remember what is available to him and look to how Nashville play to identify where it is we see this mans coaching nous. You could say the same about a guy like Tippett in Phoenix (and before that with Dallas).

On the flip-side, very few people here would ever give Bruce Boudreau any kind of credit, and since he took over the Caps no Eastern Conference team has won more hockey games than them (well, regular season at least). Why? The limitations we see in their game and the dangers those pose to genuine Stanley Cup aspirations, which obviously they have the players to have.

This is not dissimilar to how acutely aware many here were that Therrien had serious limitations (though very different than Boudreau's) even when we got back to back +100 points campaigns and swallowed the East whole before getting beat up by Detroit in the cup finals. Of course there were also quite a few back then who pointed to his record and said that it made no sense talking about coaching being a problem.

It should now be pretty well established that normally we (well, those of us I care to debate with at least) don't actually just evaluate coaches based on wins and losses or whatever streak we happen to be on. So why is it or should it be different with Bylsma now?

Yes, it is very difficult to say how much of this or that is down to coaching. If our stars play well individually, they mask any flaw there might be. If they play way below their capacity it sinks all boats because so much salary is committed to them that the supporting cast of forwards looks more like AHL than top NHL players. Same argument pro/con goes for goaltenders on all NHL teams. They can alone - at the extreme ends of their performances - make a team competitive or incapable of winning games.

All this is understood and agreed upon. But irrespective of W's or L's, whether a game is lopsided, whether we didn't get any breaks or we got all of them, and irrespective of individual player performances, over a long period of time you can meaningfully:

... look at our breakouts, our puck support when entering the offensive zone, our set plays to break out from the cycle and involve the points, our defensive zone coverage etc. and derive conclusions about Bylsma, what he is trying to do, whether the team seems to have structure, whether they play to their strengths, whether players are put in a position to likely succeed, and whether they're tactically prepared for what the opposition's game will be like.

Just like anyone who watches the majority of our games can have their own opinions as to what rationale is guiding his ice-time distribution, how he reacts tactically to in-game developments, how he could ever come to believe the PP constellations he put out there at the beginning of the season (or much of last season sans Gonchar) made sense, or as to whether complementarity is a word that seems to resonate with him... or exists in his dictionary at all.

Don't get me wrong. I think there are LOTS of good things to say about Bylsma who has certainly accomplished a lot in a short amount of time. But with all said and done, I also think he is a guy very much learning on the job, flashing serious warts, and I don't think this hockey team is at a stage where that is what you really want. Because in the past couple of seasons and every season in the immediate future barring injuries to our top stars, we will be/should be a top5 candidate to win the cup. That's how good our roster is (imperfections and all).

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