Although much of the angst surrounding his team’s current slump is misguided, the fact that some Pittsburgh Penguins fans are calling for Dan Bylsma‘s firing speaks highly of his rarefied level of regular-season success.
Pittsburgh’s current three-game regulation losing streak is just the second of its kind this season, that despite the Penguins being assured of surpassing 500 man-games lost due to injury. In more than five full seasons behind the bench, Bylsma’s teams have lost three in a row a mere five times.
Apparently, that kind of consistency over the years in the face of several major injuries isn’t enough for some people. In each of the past four seasons, the Penguins have had to deal with at least one of their best players being sidelined for significant time.
In 2010-11, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were both out for the second half of the season, yet the Penguins still accumulated 49 wins, 106 points and home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. In 2011-12, Crosby missed more than half the year with lingering concussion symptoms, and the Pens went 51-25-6 and earned the Eastern Conference’s No. 4 seed once again.
The lockout-shortened 2013 campaign was going swimmingly until Crosby sustained a broken jaw, causing him to miss the final 12 regular-season games. Nevertheless, Pittsburgh posted a 36-12 record for the best winning percentage in franchise history.
Of course, this season’s ridiculous run of poor health is well-documented, yet still some locals are restless with team leadership. Bylsma has had more than his share of playoff disappointments while helming the Pens, but his regular-season results are beyond reproach.
Or at least they should be.
Tonight’s Game: Penguins (46-22-5, 97 points – 1st Metropolitan) vs. Blue Jackets (37-29-6, 80 points – 4th Metro) at Columbus’ Nationwide Arena
Faceoff: 7 p.m. ET
TV: Root Sports Pittsburgh
Radio: 105.9 The X
The Penguins cancelled their scheduled morning skate in Columbus, opting to save their energy for tonight’s game after an intense 3-2 loss to Los Angeles on Thursday. Winger Beau Bennett has been recalled from the AHL and is anticipated to return to NHL action for the first time since late November.
We welcomed Penn State media voice Ross Insana to the show to discuss the Nittany Lions’ first Big Ten season, which included the program’s first Division I postseason victory last week.
We also previewed Robert Morris’ NCAA tourney debut this weekend and went over how the Colonials made their unprecedented run to this point. Finally, the Penguins’ mini-slump gets the GoH treatment, as do the NHL playoff races: