Pensburgh Wrap-up: Dan Bylsma

Head coach Dan Bylsma of the Pittsburgh Penguins addresses the media after Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. The Senators defeated the Penguins 5-4. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

"A life of frustration is inevitable for any coach whose main enjoyment is winning." ~ Chuck Noll

Season Stats: 82gp, 47-28-7, 101 points, 3.04 GF/game, 2.87 GA/game
Playoff Stats: 13gp, 7-6-1, 3.23 GF/game, 2.92 GA/game

PP% PK% S/G SA/G PIM/G Home Record Away Record DIV. Record East Record West Record Score 1st goal Give up 1st goal
Regular Season Stats 17.2% 84.1% 32.8 28.7 14.6 25-12-4 22-16-3 15-8-1 38-21-5 9-7-2 28-9-4 19-19-3

Contract Status: Signed through the summer of 2012.

Interesting Stat(s): Two stats stand out: 1) The Penguins had a 25-7-7 record in one goal games (4th in the NHL); 2) The Penguins had a 19-19-3 record when giving up the first goal (3rd in the NHL).

The Good: Bylsma only coached the Penguins for 25 regular season games in 2009, and while he ended the season holding that big, shiny thing hockey players dream about, many wondered whether he had the stuff to coach full time in the NHL. This year's 101 point season is proof that Bylsma knows what he's doing. As mentioned above, the Penguins were one of the best teams in the league in terms of one goal games and coming back after trailing. Teams that win close games and that can come back from deficits are typically well-coached teams.

The Penguins also didn't lag in any of the record categories, as they had at least six more wins than losses in all but the Western Conference category. And Bylsma did all of this with a team that had 3 or 4 superstars but not a lot of help. Most general hockey pundits assumed the Penguins were still a stacked team because we won the Cup last year. But we weren't as deadly as those who only watched us four times a year thought, and the fact that Bylsma got a 101 point season out of this group has to be one of the more significant achievements in his career.

The Bad: The Penguins fought through the whole season with the same nagging problems: ineffective D-men and an inconsistent power play. Also of note is their general inconsistency as a whole. Some of this has to fall on the coach's shoulders, and if the coaches and staff took measures to rectify these problems, the results didn't show up on the ice. Whether this was a product of the players or the coaches is tough to say without more information. But the mark of a great coach is his team consistently getting the fundamentals right, and Bylsma lagged in that category this season.

Final Verdict: If you remember what it was like in the winter months of the 08-09 season, Bylsma's team transformation and Cup victory is probably enough to cement him in the Penguins' Hall of Fame. This year didn't end the way we wanted it to, but we knew that we weren't going to win it all every year. The encouraging fact is that Bylsma is young and still learning, and yet even at this stage, he's already produced a resume that would make almost every NHL coach jealous. If he continues to improve along the learning curve he's already set for himself, the Penguins will have quite a few parades to plan in the next two decades.

Question and Discussion: How long do you think Bylsma will remain with the Penguins? Is he going to get better? Were the struggles this year more a reflection of Disco Dan or the players?

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