SERIES J #2 Washington vs. #4 Pittsburgh
Saturday, May 2, 2009 Pittsburgh at Washington
Monday, May 4, 2009 Pittsburgh at Washington
Wednesday, May 6, 2009 Washington at Pittsburgh
Friday, May 8, 2009 Washington at Pittsburgh
*Saturday, May 9, 2009 Pittsburgh at Washington
*Monday, May 11, 2009 Washington at Pittsburgh
*Wednesday, May 13, 2009 Pittsburgh at Washington
What an amazing night of hockey, as the Washington Capitals and the Carolina Hurricanes advanced with huge game 7 performances! Neither made it particularly easy on themselves, but in the end they both showed the swagger and confidence needed to get through.
The Eastern Conference second round bracket came into focus with these victories and the Penguins will face the Capitals. Can I get you a napkin, Mr. NHL?
That is right, the National Hockey League has got themselves a marquee match-up that they can market the heck out of. They have Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin versus Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin on the Versus Network. Two of the the probably MVP candidates are in that sentence...
They have Mike Green, all world defenseman and potential Norris Trophy winner, against former Capital Sergei Gonchar.
They have an up and coming goaltender in Marc Andre Fleury versus an upstart rookie in Simeon Varlamov. Both having stolen games for their respective teams in series one.
They have the long playoff history between the two teams to parade out during each broadcast. They can hype the fact that the Penguins have typically fared pretty well against the Capitals in post season play, while all the while pointing out that these aren't your father's Washington Capitals. This version packs a pretty big wallop of their own and will come together with the Penguins to produce and epic playoff series in the process.
This may not have all the Physicality of the Penguins/Flyers series, but there is a pretty healthy dislike between these two teams as well. That dislike, especially between some of the superstars skating for each side is going to be a dream come true for the networks and hockey fans alike.
We will break this series down a bit further tomorrow... until them, here are some additional notes.
As you already know, Dan Bylsma has officially been named head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins. No more interim tag for Danny boy... he is believed to have signed a three year deal and it is a well deserved one.
Bylsma has very quietly gone about his business since arriving over the Valentine's Day weekend. He installed an uptempo style of play that is very much suited to this group of players. It also dovetails nicely with the style that Ray Shero had hoped to build his team around when he arrived in Pittsburgh.
It is a style very much suited to the highly skilled forwards that the Penguins can trot out on any given shift and fits the puck moving defensemen that the Penguins seem to have on their depth chart.
“Dan has done such an impressive job with our team, both on and off the ice, that we didn’t see the need to wait any longer to announce our decision,” said Ray Shero, the Penguins’ executive vice president and general manager. “He is the man we want to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins as our head coach.”
Ray Shero might have backed Michel Therrien from the day he got here until he had to fire him earlier this season, but in Bylsma, he finally has his own man in the position. He has a coach that brings an enthusiasm and energy to the ice and is able to find the positives even when there are a variety of negatives to choose from.
“Dan has impressed us all with his knowledge of the game, his relentless work ethic, his communication skills, and his ability to relate to the players and staff,” Ray Shero said. “When Badger Bob Johnson was the coach of the Penguins, he said every day was a great day for hockey. Dan approaches the game with that same type of enthusiasm. He accepted the challenge of being our interim head coach in February and made this a very easy decision for our ownership and management.”
Bylsma seems to be an almost perfect candidate for this job.
“Three values that are very important to me for this organization are: work ethic, accountability and passion,” Shero said. “Dan and his staff have certainly brought that. For me, personally, it’s made it a real fun place to come to work for the last couple of months with the play of the team, the locker room, the players, our training staff and our coaching staff. I think it’s been a very good fit so far.”
A couple interesting quotes from the Penguins locker room on the hiring...
Bill Guerin - “The players have responded to him and his philosophies, his way of getting his point across. He knows what guys respond to. He knows how to get through to guys without embarrassing anybody. He’s hard on guys when he has to be and he has a lot of different ways he can approach players.”
Brooks Orpik - “We were a really fragile team. We had a lot of guys, confidence-wise, that were pretty fragile. It was a make-or-break time of our season. A lot of people even said it was a little bit too late, that we dug ourselves too big a hole. But his approach, he brings so much energy every day. Whether you win or lose, he doesn’t let you get complacent after a win and doesn’t let you beat yourself up after losses. He brings you in and teaches you. Guys are supportive of him. There’s a respect factor from the players for him.”
Here is the video of the presser that was held today in Pittsburgh...
Dan Bylsma has been a breath of fresh air for the organization and a joy to deal with. He is a very positive person, a thoughtful person and one who seems to give everyone the same treatment. It has really been a night and day change in dealing with him after having been used to Michel Therrien for the last three years.
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As we talked about during Monday night's Buzzcast, highly touted Penguins prospect Eric Tangradi sustained a severe hand injury over the weekend while playing for his Canadian Junior team. Tangradi was slated to join the Baby Penguins on their Calder Cup run when his team's season wrapped up. Unfortunately that will not happen, as he could be in line for surgery on the hand.
He went through an MRI yesterday and the Penguins are awaiting the results...they are expected tomorrow. Shero mentioned that the initial reports didn't have him thinking surgery, but you never know until the MRI results are in hand.
This is a unfortunate turn of events for a player that the Penguins have big plans for. I will keep you posted on his status.
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There is no word on whether Petr Sykora will get back into the line-up to start the Caps series or if the gig will remain firmly in the hand of Miro Satan. I imagine that the line combos in tomorrow's practice might start to give some indication of the direction the team is leaning.
I will report any info as soon as I have it...
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What on earth happened during the last minute of the Devils/Carolina game. It was like the scene in the old Superman movie where Superman is upset about Lois Lane dying in the earthquake. He gets so upset that he flies against the earths rotation turning back time and saving Lois's life...did anyone see a red and blue blue zinging out of the atmosphere? It sure seemed like something happened as the Canes roared back and scored two unanswered in the final minute of a game they looked destined to lose.