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Old
12-01-2010, 10:26 AM
  #126
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Or, to put it another way:

Perhaps "Will we win another Cup under Bylsma" and "Is Bylsma a good coach" are two entirely separate and independent questions?

Like I pointed out earlier, many extraordinarily talented coaches never lead a team to any major success in the post-season, let alone a Cup. So perhaps we're over-estimating the effect a coach has on the roster, or we are under-estimating the effect of luck, favorable matchups, fatigue, and other factors that are almost entirely outside of a coach's control on a team's chances to win the Cup.

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12-01-2010, 10:29 AM
  #127
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Originally Posted by ColePens View Post
That might be well and good for the regular season,but postseason games are won with skill, coaching, and a few breaks here and there.

Trust me, I'm not saying Bylsma can't bring back his magic for the playoffs, but it does scare me he was out-coached in Montreal. We made no adjustments to what we wanted to do.
I don't believe and I never will believe that the loss to the Canadiens was a result of anything except a Canadiens team that was on fire. That team beat the Caps and the Pens based on a relatively simple game plan that was predicated on unbelievable goaltending from Halak and ludicrous conversion percentages by Cammalleri and the like. The system was the trap, and the game plan was to collapse around the net and block as many shots as possible. It didn't take a genius coach to see that the Canadiens only had a shot if they employed the trap and hoped Halak and Cammalleri stayed white hot. I don't think Bylsma was outcoached in that series.

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12-01-2010, 10:50 AM
  #128
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Originally Posted by ColePens View Post
That might be well and good for the regular season,but postseason games are won with skill, coaching, and a few breaks here and there.

Trust me, I'm not saying Bylsma can't bring back his magic for the playoffs, but it does scare me he was out-coached in Montreal. We made no adjustments to what we wanted to do.
Cole, the Montreal series came down to goaltending. You're not the only one who talks about being "outcoached" last spring, and I just don't see how anyone can look at a series that went the way that one did and claim it was anything but that.

After game 7 you have Crosby, who's always careful about what he says basically coming out and saying "I have no idea how you can play like that and expect to win". In other words, he saw what I did. A team that sat back like they did all regular season (I watched every Hab game that wasn't on during a Pens game), prayed for stellar goaltending and timely goals. It worked for two series, and then they got run over by Philly when Halak came back down to earth.

There's no coaching system that's going to defend against 2 goals from the icing line, poor wraparound goals, cross crease passes that bounce perfectly off Letang's skate into the net, and allowing the first goal on the first shot in 3 separate games. Save for a period here and there, if Montreal spent more than 35% of the time in our zone that series, I'd be shocked.

Lack of scoring depth finally helped bite us in the ass as well (Crosby and Malkin don't get off scott free here either) but in the end, if Fleury had even a decent series, that's a 6 game series at best.

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12-01-2010, 11:08 AM
  #129
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It was obviously MORE than just goaltending, though. Because Shero decided to completely overhaul the defense, which has led to even fewer scoring options and a distinct difference in how we're playing now...more time with the puck, more mobility from the back, better breakout passes, harder work overall, a lot less soffness, especially up front. etc. etc. etc.

We lost to Mtl for several reasons, imo (in no order): Martin outclassing Bylsma with in-game adjustments, Fleury giving up soff AND back-breaking goals from a timing standpoint, the offense completely drying up, the defense breaking down in very key moments, absolutely nobody stepping up to help Sid and Geno when it was obvious the game plan against us was to let ANYBODY else try to beat us, certain players going into the tank, Mtl's strategy to keep everything to the outside and collapsing in front of Halak to extreme proportions, et al.

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12-01-2010, 12:02 PM
  #130
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Originally Posted by Jag68Sid87 View Post
It was obviously MORE than just goaltending, though. Because Shero decided to completely overhaul the defense, which has led to even fewer scoring options and a distinct difference in how we're playing now...more time with the puck, more mobility from the back, better breakout passes, harder work overall, a lot less soffness, especially up front. etc. etc. etc.

We lost to Mtl for several reasons, imo (in no order): Martin outclassing Bylsma with in-game adjustments, Fleury giving up soff AND back-breaking goals from a timing standpoint, the offense completely drying up, the defense breaking down in very key moments, absolutely nobody stepping up to help Sid and Geno when it was obvious the game plan against us was to let ANYBODY else try to beat us, certain players going into the tank, Mtl's strategy to keep everything to the outside and collapsing in front of Halak to extreme proportions, et al.
Stop. I'm sorry, but there isn't a single thing any of you can identify as to what Jacques Martin did that was so special other than sit back and pray for opportunistic scoring and stellar goaltending. If you're going to use the word "outclass" in particular, it tells me you saw something glaringly specific, which I'm positive you didn't. It's just something easy to say after the fact when you look at the series outcome.

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12-01-2010, 01:41 PM
  #131
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Originally Posted by MtlPenFan View Post
Cole, the Montreal series came down to goaltending. You're not the only one who talks about being "outcoached" last spring, and I just don't see how anyone can look at a series that went the way that one did and claim it was anything but that.

After game 7 you have Crosby, who's always careful about what he says basically coming out and saying "I have no idea how you can play like that and expect to win". In other words, he saw what I did. A team that sat back like they did all regular season (I watched every Hab game that wasn't on during a Pens game), prayed for stellar goaltending and timely goals. It worked for two series, and then they got run over by Philly when Halak came back down to earth.

There's no coaching system that's going to defend against 2 goals from the icing line, poor wraparound goals, cross crease passes that bounce perfectly off Letang's skate into the net, and allowing the first goal on the first shot in 3 separate games. Save for a period here and there, if Montreal spent more than 35% of the time in our zone that series, I'd be shocked.

Lack of scoring depth finally helped bite us in the ass as well (Crosby and Malkin don't get off scott free here either) but in the end, if Fleury had even a decent series, that's a 6 game series at best.
See, Montreal's success in the playoffs is always chalked up to JUST Halak playing out of his mind. Now, he was of course doing exactly that, but Montreal did a good job making use of his strengths. They defended excellent as a five-man unit, clogging up shooting and passing lanes. They knew Halak would make pretty much every routine save, which he did; so, they did their best to make him only have to make routine saves. They did it extremely well, forcing two of the best offensive teams in the league to stick to the perimeter and take very low-percentage shots, and preventing any significant threats in front. I didn't get to see much of the MTL-PHI series so I'm not sure what changed, but I can certainly say that it's a bit of a simplistic analysis to chalk up Montreal's two series wins as being Halak's successes alone. He was the key that allowed them to do what they did, but they built an excellent strategy around him - one that minimized their opponents' strengths and emphasized their own.

At the time, I pointed out that we could play a quick, counter-attacking game, and use our speed to give us short periods where we would have high percentage shots, and that could theoretically be enough to do it. There was no guarantee that it would work, but it was something that I could see being possible. We essentially did the opposite of that, unfortunately, and we'll never know if any sort of change might have worked. What we do know is that faced with his gameplan clearly not working, Bylsma assumed that what Montreal was doing couldn't last and stuck with it; a sort of brute force method, you might say. Ultimately, he guessed wrong.

For sure, there were other factors that contributed, such as some of the soft goals let up by Fleury, and a lack of any contributions by our depth players. This is not to belittle the impact that those had. A good coach, however, is able to adapt to and even hide his team's weaknesses, as well as adapt to the opponent's system and find its weak point. Bylsma instead chose to perform the coaching equivalent of banging his head against a brick wall, and met with predictable results.

To me, that series really feels like a missed opportunity. It is possible we could have tried a different tactic and still lost. I can't deny that. But the fact that we essentially didn't try to change anything up was kind of distressing. I think that series, and my impression of it, may have a lot with how I view Bylsma.

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Old
12-01-2010, 01:57 PM
  #132
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Originally Posted by MtlPenFan View Post
Stop. I'm sorry, but there isn't a single thing any of you can identify as to what Jacques Martin did that was so special other than sit back and pray for opportunistic scoring and stellar goaltending. If you're going to use the word "outclass" in particular, it tells me you saw something glaringly specific, which I'm positive you didn't. It's just something easy to say after the fact when you look at the series outcome.
Jacques Martin had guys that could play defense......Dan Byslma didn't. Martin had a goalie who was interested in stopping pucks...Byslma didn't. It is simple really.

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12-01-2010, 02:10 PM
  #133
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Originally Posted by Fraction Jackson View Post
See, Montreal's success in the playoffs is always chalked up to JUST Halak playing out of his mind. Now, he was of course doing exactly that, but Montreal did a good job making use of his strengths. They defended excellent as a five-man unit, clogging up shooting and passing lanes. They knew Halak would make pretty much every routine save, which he did; so, they did their best to make him only have to make routine saves. They did it extremely well, forcing two of the best offensive teams in the league to stick to the perimeter and take very low-percentage shots, and preventing any significant threats in front. I didn't get to see much of the MTL-PHI series so I'm not sure what changed, but I can certainly say that it's a bit of a simplistic analysis to chalk up Montreal's two series wins as being Halak's successes alone. He was the key that allowed them to do what they did, but they built an excellent strategy around him - one that minimized their opponents' strengths and emphasized their own.

At the time, I pointed out that we could play a quick, counter-attacking game, and use our speed to give us short periods where we would have high percentage shots, and that could theoretically be enough to do it. There was no guarantee that it would work, but it was something that I could see being possible. We essentially did the opposite of that, unfortunately, and we'll never know if any sort of change might have worked. What we do know is that faced with his gameplan clearly not working, Bylsma assumed that what Montreal was doing couldn't last and stuck with it; a sort of brute force method, you might say. Ultimately, he guessed wrong.

For sure, there were other factors that contributed, such as some of the soft goals let up by Fleury, and a lack of any contributions by our depth players. This is not to belittle the impact that those had. A good coach, however, is able to adapt to and even hide his team's weaknesses, as well as adapt to the opponent's system and find its weak point. Bylsma instead chose to perform the coaching equivalent of banging his head against a brick wall, and met with predictable results.

To me, that series really feels like a missed opportunity. It is possible we could have tried a different tactic and still lost. I can't deny that. But the fact that we essentially didn't try to change anything up was kind of distressing. I think that series, and my impression of it, may have a lot with how I view Bylsma.
All of THIS.

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12-01-2010, 03:27 PM
  #134
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Originally Posted by Fraction Jackson View Post
See, Montreal's success in the playoffs is always chalked up to JUST Halak playing out of his mind. Now, he was of course doing exactly that, but Montreal did a good job making use of his strengths. They defended excellent as a five-man unit, clogging up shooting and passing lanes. They knew Halak would make pretty much every routine save, which he did; so, they did their best to make him only have to make routine saves. They did it extremely well, forcing two of the best offensive teams in the league to stick to the perimeter and take very low-percentage shots, and preventing any significant threats in front. I didn't get to see much of the MTL-PHI series so I'm not sure what changed, but I can certainly say that it's a bit of a simplistic analysis to chalk up Montreal's two series wins as being Halak's successes alone. He was the key that allowed them to do what they did, but they built an excellent strategy around him - one that minimized their opponents' strengths and emphasized their own.

At the time, I pointed out that we could play a quick, counter-attacking game, and use our speed to give us short periods where we would have high percentage shots, and that could theoretically be enough to do it. There was no guarantee that it would work, but it was something that I could see being possible. We essentially did the opposite of that, unfortunately, and we'll never know if any sort of change might have worked. What we do know is that faced with his gameplan clearly not working, Bylsma assumed that what Montreal was doing couldn't last and stuck with it; a sort of brute force method, you might say. Ultimately, he guessed wrong.

For sure, there were other factors that contributed, such as some of the soft goals let up by Fleury, and a lack of any contributions by our depth players. This is not to belittle the impact that those had. A good coach, however, is able to adapt to and even hide his team's weaknesses, as well as adapt to the opponent's system and find its weak point. Bylsma instead chose to perform the coaching equivalent of banging his head against a brick wall, and met with predictable results.

To me, that series really feels like a missed opportunity. It is possible we could have tried a different tactic and still lost. I can't deny that. But the fact that we essentially didn't try to change anything up was kind of distressing. I think that series, and my impression of it, may have a lot with how I view Bylsma.
The only thing playing a counter game would have accomplished is allow Montreal MORE shots and MORE opportunities on a goaltender that had been below average since midway through November. Or we would have seen a lot of what what we saw at the beginning of this year until the Anaheim game: Try to play passively in order to create turnovers in the neutral zone. It didn't work, and it doesn't play to this team's strengths. I personally am not crazy about attacking and sending two men in ALL THE TIME, but I've come to terms with the fact that we have too many blunt instruments on this team that NEED to play that way in order to be effective.

Our chances weren't as great as Washington's, and if you watched that particular series I'm sorry, but Montreal barely got past the center ice line. There was nothing low percentage about Ovechkin's and Semin's chances, and you can't tell me that getting 56 shots in one game, no matter how many shooting lanes you're blocking is completely by design. It was because they were overmatched and HAD to play that way. Getting outshot by the Caps 42 to 16 in a game 7 has more to do with your goalie than it does Jacques Martin.

If you watched the Philly series, I'd say we actually played better than Philly did for the most part. Save for game 1, Philly wasn't exactly lighting it up offensively, but their minimum wage goalie simply never got them into any trouble that series with bad goals.

I honestly believe people have been so anxious to dump on the staff that they've forgotten how flat out awful Fleury was while allowing some of the most untimely bad goals I've ever seen from an "elite" goalie. Go watch the highlights again and some of those goals were inexcusable and inexplicable. Keep in mind how deflating goals like that are for a team and how badly they put you on your heels, having to constantly compensate and work twice as hard as the other team for a single goal, only to have the other team respond with a goal from the icing line.

As far as changing strategies, I don't see how that makes any sense. When you're constantly spending time in the other team's zone, outplaying and outchancing them, the last thing you do is change it up.

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Old
12-01-2010, 05:37 PM
  #135
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The only thing playing a counter game would have accomplished is allow Montreal MORE shots and MORE opportunities on a goaltender that had been below average since midway through November. Or we would have seen a lot of what what we saw at the beginning of this year until the Anaheim game: Try to play passively in order to create turnovers in the neutral zone. It didn't work, and it doesn't play to this team's strengths. I personally am not crazy about attacking and sending two men in ALL THE TIME, but I've come to terms with the fact that we have too many blunt instruments on this team that NEED to play that way in order to be effective.
If the Pens decided to trade chances, there is also the matter of the Canadiens scoring on a high percentage of their shots. Cammalleri was so hot and their other small, speedy guys were scoring too.

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12-01-2010, 05:52 PM
  #136
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Montreal minimized the high percentage shots we were able to take and played the most opportunistic hockey some of us will ever see. Every single mistake we made ended up in our net, Halak played at a God like level, and Fleury played like he didn't deserve to be in the league.

I'm not discounting Montreal because they did the same thing to Washington, but if I were a betting man, I wouldn't bet for that to happen again.

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12-01-2010, 08:22 PM
  #137
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Everybody gets outcoached sometime, Cole, and often by more inconsistent coaches or hot teams. Bowman, Babcock, et al. have dropped their share of entirely winable series. Somehow, they're not considered horrible coaches, and YOU would most certainly welcome them on our bench if given the opportunity. Bylsma has a fraction of the games they do under their belt.

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. You can't write off Bylsma's success with Crosby and Malkin, while ignoring Babcock's success with Detroit's well stocked roster, or Bowman's success with ridiculously deep rosters. It's bad logic at best and dishonest at worst.

Now, as to your previous comment about how coaching roles have changed, I think you'd be hard-pressed to argue that the quality of play in the 70's was anywhere near as bad as it was in the 80's and 90's. The fact remains that Bowman led a legendarily awesome Habs team to success and heavily benefited from it. Would Bowman have been a great coach without leading one of the most ridiculously stacked franchises in history? Probably. Would he have had the same level of success if he was coaching the early 2000's Penguins? I think it's fair to argue "probably not". 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.

Coaching expectations may be different in an age of digital video, fantasy hockey, and expanded parity, but the ability of the coach to affect on-ice events remain the same, outside of Bylsma strapping on the skates to be our version of Reggie Dunlop.

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Or, to put it another way:

Perhaps "Will we win another Cup under Bylsma" and "Is Bylsma a good coach" are two entirely separate and independent questions?

Like I pointed out earlier, many extraordinarily talented coaches never lead a team to any major success in the post-season, let alone a Cup. So perhaps we're over-estimating the effect a coach has on the roster, or we are under-estimating the effect of luck, favorable matchups, fatigue, and other factors that are almost entirely outside of a coach's control on a team's chances to win the Cup.
First, your post on top is a fantastic response. It was well-put and a great argument for this discussion. However, your second post actually summed up what I was going to respond with. Honestly, every point you made is very valid. That's why I think this discussion is really good and should be had.

People probably think I'm a huge Bylsma-hater because that's 90% of my posts, but I'm not. I think the jury is still out on whether he can be a very good coach in the NHL or not. I just don't think he fits the Penguins build at all. That's my personal opinion. I think we could win a cup with him, but i do put the chances higher with a better coach. A great coach might have been able to get us to the finals last year. Our talent wasn't playing at it's top caliber. It's up to the coach to fix that and get the results out of his players.

I'm not sold either way. I just think it's a really good discussion. However, people here immediately jump on the far left/right of this discussion and it goes nowhere.


By the way, the question you phrased is probably the best way to discuss this topic.

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12-01-2010, 08:40 PM
  #138
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I'm not completely unhappy with Bylsma, but he does need to learn that skilled wingers will make mistakes occassionally and you can't banish them to the fourth line after a mistake or being held pointless for a game or two. Poni was a decent example of this, in my opinion. Not everyone can be Geno or Sid out there.

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12-01-2010, 09:36 PM
  #139
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I never questioned if DB's system could work. It absolutely can. What I did question is the expiration date of his message. Every single coach in the league has an expiration date where the players are no longer buying into the system. Some guy's shelf lives are longer (Lindy Ruff) while others are shorter (Michel Therrien). In the beginning of the season I was questioning if the guys were really committed to "getting to our game," as DB likes to say.

We'll see I guess.

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12-01-2010, 10:45 PM
  #140
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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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12-01-2010, 10:57 PM
  #141
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I think there has to be a miscommunication somewhere in this thread. All we have to do is ask ourselves what is causing this streak? It's all Sid and Fleury (HM to Letang). Those two upped their game to a whole new level.

What Tender is saying is that we aren't winning games all due to coaching. It's okay to admit that. This is like people falling in love w/ MT during stretches where our talent would take over.

Eventually we will lose a couple games and people will be whining about the defensive zone and wonder why there are so many breakdowns. The powerplay will fall below 15% again and we will keep questioning.

I hate that we can't just discuss the topic. Every time we win a game doesn't mean it was well-coached. It doesn't mean we were poorly coached when we lose either. There just has to be some line drawn when the discussion occurs. Too many people defend far left or far right too much.
Great assessment, but, to defend my far-left Bylsma defenders, it seems that when the team is doing great, it is the players who are the reason and when the team is doing bad, it is all on the coaching.

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