On Tuesday night, the Pittsburgh Penguins suffered a devastating 2-1 loss at the hands of the New York Rangers, in turn losing their Conference Semifinals matchup 4-3. This series loss is absolutely devastating for the Penguins and should lead to massive changes within the organization.
The Penguins’ loss on Tuesday night seemed to be a replay of past seasons, as they outplayed New York by all statistical measures and were obviously the more talented team, but ultimately got bogged down by mental and physical pressure. The likes of Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz, James Neal and Marc-Andre Fleury were all huge disappointments over this final loss, much in the same way they have been during disappointing playoff losses over the last five seasons.
One clear result of not winning even one Conference Finals game over the last five seasons is that Dan Bylsma needs to be pushed out the door. Sure, the coach has a 62.2 percent winning rate over this period, but he has never seemed able to manage the emotions of Fleury in net, the health of Crosby, or been able to get Pittsburgh to engage physically come playoff time.
For a team with the roster talent that the Penguins has, not winning the Stanley Cup once is an egregious offense, and a firing is only right for the organization.
Moving down from the coach, there is no doubting that the only two players who should truly be safe are Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Finding potential suitors for the likes of Neal, Kris Letang, Kunitz or Fleury may not be especially easy given their hefty salaries, but moving one or two of this lot would provide a much-needed shakeup in the organization.
After all, each of these players has proven mentally fragile during recent years, and their general finesse playing style hasn’t meshed well with playoff hockey.
Pittsburgh certainly has a core of talented players that any GM would love, but it is time to make massive changes from the top down. Doing so will not only show Crosby and Malkin that management is serious about winning, but will provide a culture shock to the locker room, and ensure that the team is never physically manhandled or emotionally beat down in the playoffs ever again.