Tuesday, October 15, 2013

What the Pens (and Dan Bylsma) should do against the Oilers tonight

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

I had the good fortune (I bought tickets) of going to see the Oilers play the Capitals in Washington, D.C. last night.  It was part scouting mission / part curiosity, as I've never actually watched more than 8 seconds of an Oilers' game.  The Caps won, 4-2.

Here's my takeaway:

If you could use an extra $10,000, what you should do is take the $10,000 you have in your bank account, give it to a bookie, tell him you want the Pens -1.5 tonight, and then wait for him to come to your house tomorrow with $20,000 (or $19,000 depending on his cut).

It's not that the Oilers have bad players -- they actually had some impressive individual plays, including a beautiful deflected pass and counter-attack by Justin Schultz (mind you, it was after intercepting a lazy pass from Mike Green) -- but whatever cliche intangibles that a hockey team is supposed to have so that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts ... they don't have that.  They don't seem like a real hockey team.

And they don't have a real goalie.

The best way to describe Edmonton is that they look like one of those men's league teams that brings in a bunch of young guys who are home from college to be ringers and help the team win the Molson or Heineken Cup, or whatever beer is sponsoring this year's Christmas Tournament.  Except everyone on the men's league team forgot how few shits college kids give about anything -- especially rec league hockey over their winter break -- and the college kids, while talented, end up just skating around the edges trying low percentage fancy moves, and then piss everyone off by refusing to come off the ice during a power play.

"Pretend like you don't see the old guys trying to get on the ice, and we can play this whole power-play."
Even though Edmonton outshot Washington 30-20 (and even won the Corsis), there was really never any doubt that when Washington's best players felt like scoring, they were going to be able to do so without exerting all that much effort.  I'm not taking anything away from the Caps' 4-2 victory (I am), but there are almost no lessons that can be taken away from beating Edmonton at this point.

So how should Dan Bylsma coach his team in a game that has no bearing on whether the Pens are good or bad or what systems the Pens should run going forward?  The answer: he shouldn't.

For the sake of hockey fans everywhere, Dan Bylsma and Dallas Eakins should recuse themselves from tonight's game and just let the players play.  No coaching.  No systems.  No line-matching.  Nothing but up-and-down hockey.  Raw talent, free from the shackles of structure and discipline.

"Now you've got my attention."
The only reason not to do this is that Fleury could end up in an insane asylum after giving up 13 goals in the first period (and leaving with a 16-13 lead).  But here's the thing: it's a long season ahead.  Let's have some fun along the way.

Screw it, scratch Tanner Glass and let DB suit up.


  1. When are the pens going to fire Bylsma for the James Neal "wiffle ball" injury? If you guys had any objectivity (or if this happened to another star player for an opposing team), you'd be all over this. its embarrassing. so sad. this team has no control. no wonder they lose every year.

    1. I agree, the wiffle-balling has gotten out of control. I think the Pens should fire Bylsma because of it. But then what happens when Geno aggravates his turf-toe during on-ice putt putt? Do we then fire Todd Rierden? And then when Tony Granato takes over and Crosby breaks a finger in the batting cages, does he get fired, too? What happens if after that, Kris Letang loses an eye playing darts? Does Shero have to go at that point? Bottom line is that the buck stops with Mario. He needs to sell the team to the referees he's already paying.

    2. Personally, I think Dana Heinze should bear the brunt of this one. Had he provided regulation size wiffel balls and ice cleats, Neal's injury could easily have been avoided.

      I'm surprised this team ever wins a game. We should have shipped this team off to Kansas City when we had the chance.

    3. The real story here is CROSBY CUT LINE AT THE DMV.

  2. Well you can joke all you want, but I sure am glad that I didn't listen to your taking the pens -1.5 and betting 10k on them. its pretty sad how little you know about the pens and hockey. sure write all you want. you're like a movie critic who always wanted to be an actor. but in this case some peeps who always wanted to play hockey but couldn't. I'm glad you're fans of hockey cause there aren't too many of us around anymore. regardless good luck to the pens in 2015. they won't see stanley this season.

  3. Neal is out with a wiffle ball injury?
    Cannot stop laughing.