It's All On Dan Bylsma Now
Actions speak louder than words. I’m sure Ray Shero has informed Dan Bylsma, in words, of his expectations for this season. He wants this team to win the Stanley Cup.
Over the past week, his actions have driven that message home. The Penguins had better win it all. This year.
Shero isn’t the only one who believes that. Brenden Morrow obviously saw a better situation here. Douglas Murray called the Penguins the best team in the league. Jarome Iginla followed their lead and chose Pittsburgh over Boston. These guys came here to win the Stanley Cup. There isn’t going to be an “aw, you tried your hardest, that’s okay” feeling if they lose in the third round. Anything less than a Stanley Cup championship is a failure for the organization this year.
If it hasn’t been said in words, it’s been said in actions to Dan Bylsma. After a shocking run to the finals in 2009, Bylsma’s playoff record has been the only blemish on his resume. Three straight years of losing to lower seeds isn’t going to sit well with the organization, even if you give him a pass for 2010-2011, the year of the injured superstars.
It appears that Bylsma’s mandate this year is to win everything. I don’t know that that means he gets fired if the Penguins lose in the conference finals, but a first-round exit again would almost certainly cost him his job.
As enormous as these moves are with regard to postseason implications, they may also serve as a test of focus for the players in the dressing room. They’re on a 13 game winning streak heading into tonight’s game against Winnipeg. The players will say all the things on camera, but how much do you think they’ve gotten cocky over the past two weeks? The mere presence of guys like Iginla and Morrow should send a clear message: Nobody cares what you do this season unless you win it all at the end. Those guys aren’t here for a double-digit win streak. They’re here to see their names engraved on the game’s greatest prize this summer.
The expectations have been set. It’s up to Dan Bylsma to guide the players in the room to the promised land once again.