Lyle Kossis: Why Dan Bylsma Would be the Perfect Coach for the Panthers

Editor’s Note: Lyle Kossis of Pensburgh took the time to write why he believes Dan Bylsma, former head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins, would be an ideal fit for the Florida Panthers vacant coaching position. Be sure to follow Lyle on twitter: @LyleKossis

News broke this week that Dan Bylsma interviewed for the head coaching job with the Florida Panthers.  Dale Tallon was quoted as saying that Bylsma “interviewed strong,” and that he was being seriously considered for the job.  With Bylsma so close to the head coaching job in Florida, I’d like to take a look at why he makes sense for the Panthers.

When Bylsma took over the Penguins in 2009, they had just come off a Stanley Cup Final appearance and had expectations to win the Cup that year.  The problem was that Michel Therrien—seemingly against all odds—had coached a team led by Crosby and Malkin to 10th place in the Eastern Conference.  That put them outside the playoff picture and in a position that was unacceptable to management.  So they took extreme action and fired Therrien (a coach they just signed to a three-year deal) and replaced him with Bylsma.

One of the best things Bylsma did is that he made wholesale changes to the system and got the players to buy in almost overnight.  One of the ways we can tell this is by looking at the team’s possession totals.  In 2007-2008 under Therrien, the Penguins were one of the worst possession teams in the league, sporting a 46.51% FF in score-close situations, which bested only three other teams.  The Penguins went on their playoff run thanks to hot goaltending and high shooting percentages, but the problem persisted the following year.  The Penguins were again an awful possession team under Michel Therrien in 2009, and they were drowning because the percentages didn’t break in their favor.

Bylsma’s changes were extreme—as were the results.  As Nick Emptage has noted, in “terms of increasing puck possession, the best coaching changes since 2007 would be Michel Therrien to Dan Bylsma in Pittsburgh (46.3% Fenwick Close to 52.6%).”  To put those numbers in different terms, a 46.3% Fenwick Close would place the Penguins among the five worst teams in the league that year; their jump under Bylsma to nearly 53% would place them comfortably in the top six.

Aside from getting his message through quickly and winning the Stanley Cup (no big deal), Bylsma instituted a system that saw the Penguins routinely finish among the elite teams in terms of puck possession.  They maintained this superiority through 2011-2012, coming back down to Earth in the lockout-shortened season when the team had to adjust to life without Jordan Staal.  But this year they were back on the right track in terms of puck possession until the team went on a historic run of injuries.

Some Panthers fans could worry that Bylsma only looked like a good coach because he got to coach elite talent.  But in 2010-2011, the Penguins lost Crosby and Malkin for the second half of the regular season and had neither of them in the playoffs.  Yet the Penguins still finished the year as a really good possession team, and finished 4th in the conference in terms of playoff seeding.  The Penguins were also victimized by injuries in 2012 and 2014, but that never stopped Bylsma’s team from qualifying for the playoffs.  Apart from Crosby and Malkin, Bylsma knew what he was doing.

The Panthers have elite talent of their own, of course. With Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad, and Jonathan Huberdeau, Bylsma will have plenty of players to shape as time goes on.  The mandate will no doubt be to turn this team (and those players) into possession monsters who can start reliably out-scoring and out-possessing the opposition.  Fortunately, Bylsma seems to get through to the young guys.  Early on his tenure with the Penguins, Bylsma was known as a high-energy guy, a persona which meshes well with young talent.  That article quoted Jordan Staal as saying that “[e]very morning it seems like [Bylsma’s] got about 10 cups of coffee in him. He’s an exciting guy to meet in the morning.”  Staal had more to say:

“I’m usually not a morning guy, but with him, every day seems like a new day and there’s something new to learn. He takes ownership to do that and get everyone else on the same page and be excited about learning and getting better. It’s exciting to drive to the rink and know that’s what you’re coming to.”

The ideal scenario for the Panthers is that this level of enthusiasm carries over and begins to permeate a team that has not found themselves in playoff contention as often as they would have liked. With young players on their roster—a la Jordan Staal in 2010—the potential is there for Bylsma’s message to get through.

Some folks might still be apprehensive because Bylsma was fired, and the lingering question would be: why hire a coach who just failed?  I don’t think that that should be a concern.  Bylsma is not a toxic former coach like John Tortorella, who seems to destroy the offensive potential of his teams and bring the Rangers (and now the Canucks) clearly out of contender status.  I think that Bylsma was largely a victim of a less than ideal roster and practically unattainable expectations in Pittsburgh.

Those issues are less of a concern in Florida, though, which means the scene is set for the Panthers to become a force in the Eastern Conference.  If they select Bylsma as their next head coach, they’ll be well on their way.

Dan Bylsma Watch: Panthers Interview Former Penguins Head Coach

As soon as the Pittsburgh Penguins announced the hiring of new General Manager Jim Rutherford, all eyes and ears of Panthers faithful were waiting for the inevitable news that Dan Bylsma has been relieved of his coaching duties.

For days, it has been rumored that the Florida Panthers may have interest in the Stanley Cup winning coach and the winningest coach in Penguins history. Since day 3 of his firing, Harvey Fialkov of the Sun-Sentinel reported that Tallon reached out to Bylsma.

Here we are on day 6, and Darren Dreger finally confirmed what most of you had hoped for.

Whether it’s Bylsma, Marc Crawford, Gerard Gallant or Ron Wilson, if all goes well, look for the Panthers to announce their new head coach sooner rather than later.

 

We welcome your comments and feedback!

Follow Paige on Twitter @PaigeLewisFL

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Panther Parkway Radio: Bylsma Fired, Prospect Signings, Draft, Free Agency & More!

Tune in to tonight’s show where we discuss the biggest NHL & Florida Panthers news of the week!

Host: Paige Lewis

Guests: Jameson Cooper, Mike Lewis, and Mike Obrand

Topics

  • Dan Bylsma Fired
  • Bylsma a good fit for Florida?
  • Panthers made 5 off-season signings.
  • Panthers draft discussion
  • Dave Bolland a good fit for Florida?
  • Best free agents for Florida

New Episode Here

We welcome your comments and feedback!

Follow Paige on Twitter @PaigeLewisFL

For All Your Florida Panthers’ Updates Follow Panther Parkway on Facebook

Follow Panther Parkway on Instagram @ PantherParkway

Panther Parkway Radio: Luongo Returns, Thomas and Goc Traded, Winners and Losers from Trade Deadline Day & More!

Tune in to tonight’s show where we discuss the biggest Florida Panthers news of the week with the acquisition of Roberto Luongo! Also, the guys and gals of Panther Parkway discuss the Tim Thomas and Marcel Goc trades, as well as the winners and losers of Trade Deadline day!

Host: Paige Lewis

Guests:  Jameson Cooper and Mike Lewis (no relations to Paige)

Topics

  • Luongo returns, Matthias and Markstrom traded
  • Tim Thomas traded to Dallas, Dan Ellis traded to Florida
  • Marcel Goc traded to Pittsburgh. Who replaces him?
  • What does the future of our team look like now?
  • Winners and losers of Trade Deadline day.

 Click the link below for today’s podcast!

New Episode Here

We welcome your comments and feedback!

Follow Paige on Twitter @PaigeLewisFL

For All Your Florida Panthers’ Updates Follow Panther Parkway on Facebook

Follow Panther Parkway on Instagram @ PantherParkway

Marcel Goc Traded to Pittsburgh in Exchange for Two Draft Picks

With the deadline just hours away, Dale Tallon and Florida Panthers faithful have been plenty busy acquiring the likes of G Roberto Luongo and C Brandon Pirri, while trading Mike Weaver to the Montreal Canadiens for a 5th round pick in 2015. In addition to these acquisitions, the Panthers announced Wednesday afternoon that they have traded C Marcel Goc to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for a 3rd round pick in 2015 and a 5th round pick in 2014.

Goc, 30, has appeared in 161 games in a Panthers uniform since signing as a free agent in the summer of 2011. Recording 69 points during his 3-year stint with the Cats, the German born NHL veteran has been one of the Panthers more complete players to don the red, gold and blue.

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Sidney Crosby: Goal of the Year Candidate?

Just when you thought you have seen all you can see from Sidney Crosby, he takes it one step further and scores one of the most mind-boggling goals of the season. It all starts with his great effort and back-checking, stealing the puck right out from underneath Thomas Vanek, weaseling his way around rookie defenseman Calvin De Haan and Thomas Hickey, and scoring this beauty to win it in overtime against the slumping New York Islanders.  You can love him, you can hate him, but this was just so…Sidney Crosby.

 

 

 

Follow the Panther Parkway crew on Twitter: Frank Rekas @FrankRekas, David Lasseter @davidlasseter , Paige Lewis @PaigeLewisFL, Jameson Cooper @JamesonCoop, and Amanda Land @HockeyGirl2530.  Also, please join our FaceBook Fan Page and hit the like button, send us photos, and tell us what’s on your mind.

Game Day Preview: Penguins vs. Panthers. I Walk The Way I Wanna Walk.

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS: 17-9-1 (35 PTS.) vs. FLORIDA PANTHERS: 7-14-5 (19 PTS).

GAME DAY SONG:  Out In The Street. Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band

Since Kevin Dineen was fired back on November 8th, the Florida Panthers have gone 4-5-1 in the 9 games that interim coach Peter Horachek has coached.  The worst loss of those games came Wednesday night, a game before Thanksgiving, and it looked as though the Panthers had turkey on their minds from the puck drop.  The game besides being a dull, boring affair, proved that the Panthers still have some work to do in spite of some recent success.  Let’s not forget that Florida has the second fewest wins in the NHL, and their overall record is third worst in the league.

Yet it’s not all doom and gloom, as Florida has come a long way since the coaching move, as two other changes that took place may have sent a strong message to the team.  Goaltender Jacob Markstrom was sent to San Antonio to work on his consistency.  Not at all a bad idea for a goaltender who seemed to be fighting some sort of demon this season.  The second move was the trade of forward Kris Versteeg back to the Chicago Blackhawks for defenceman Dylan Olsen and forward Jimmy Hayes.  A move that Versteeg may have played himself into, but on the bright side, the chemistry that Olsen and defensive partner Erik Gudbranson seem to have is uncanny.  Gudbranson looks like a new player, and has played with more confidence and intelligence.  This could be a result of the coaching change as well, but regardless, the Panthers need their defence to tighten up, and for the most part they seem as though they have.

Tim Thomas who has been a workhorse since returning from injury has been one of the most consistent players on the team this year.  Despite his record of 6-8-1, it’s Thomas who has kept the games closer than they should have been.  A familiar story over the past few seasons here in Florida, where goaltending has usually been better than predicted, yet something that can’t be relied on 100%.  Scoring remains to be an issue as the Panthers have scored only 58 goals in 26 games.  Not nearly enough, and that has to improve.

Playing the Penguins tonight, Florida can reflect on a 6-3 victory the last time these two teams met here in Sunrise.  It was their best performance of the season at that time under Kevin Dineen.  Nevermind it was against goaltender Jeff Zatkoff who was making his NHL debut.  Zatkoff who relieved Marc-Andre Fleury on Wednesday, could be in the nets again for this one. In that previous game rookie Aleksander Barkov had his only multi-point game of the season when he scored a goal and added two assists.

The Panthers will need to play a smart game and be aware of all the offensive firepower that the Penguins have. Sidney Crosby is tied on the Penguins in goals with 13 and leads the league in points with 36.  However there’s also Evgeni Malkin (31 points), Chris Kunitz (26 points), James Neal and Jussi Jokinen to keep their eyes on.

While the Panthers now play a more uptempo game, it’s going to be important not to get into a run and gun game with Pittsburgh. The Penguins have too many weapons offensively, and Florida can’t afford to be caught with more than a hand full of odd man rushes against, as well as do their best to stay out of the penalty box.  Mistakes must also be kept to a minimum, and those have been coming from the defence all season.  Since Horachek took over, there have been less, but they are still evident.

This will be game three of the five game homestand, and a victory would certainly put a different outlook on things as the Cats continue to turn this season around.

Thanks for reading.  We welcome your comments and opinions.

Follow the Panther Parkway crew on Twitter: Frank Rekas @FrankRekas, David Lasseter @davidlasseter , Paige Lewis @PaigeLewisFL, Jameson Cooper @JamesonCoop, and Amanda Land @HockeyGirl2530.  Also, please join our FaceBook Fan Page and hit the like button, send us photos, and tell us what’s on your mind.

GIF: Sidney Crosby Breaks Nathan Mackinnon

News Flash! Sidney Crosby is still very good…very, very, good.

Currently leading the NHL in almost all important offensive categories, Crosby was unable to break Colorado Avalanche goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere on Monday night as the veteran netminder led the Avalanche to a 1-0 victory over the usually explosive Penguins’ offense. However, even though he wasn’t able to crack the score sheet, Crosby was able to crack something else – Nathan Mackinnon’s ankles.

In .gif below, Mackinnon, 18,  earned one of his first “welcome to the NHL moments” as he found out that keeping up with one of the NHL’s best may be harder than it looks.

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Panthers Rebound In A Big Way Over Pittsburgh

What a difference a day can make in the life of a National Hockey League club. Thursday night, the Florida Panthers were humbled by the Tampa Bay Lightning to extend their losing streak to three games. Things didn’t get to look any easier as the rested 3-0 Pittsburgh Penguins were waiting in Sunrise for the Panthers home opener. Thankfully for the home folks, the Cats were able to keep within in the theme of celebration and posted a 6-3 win.
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Video: Re-Live Aleksander Barkov’s Big Night Against The Penguins

After having gone without a goal since opening night against the Dallas Stars, Panthers’ highly touted rookie Aleksander Barkov proved once again on Friday night why he was selected 2nd overall in last year’s entry draft. Coming off a grueling four-game road trip in which they were only able to earn 2 points in the standings, Barkov and the rest of the Panthers’ offense finally found their groove against the Pittsburgh Penguins who were clearly suffering without the services of starting goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. By the end of the night, the Panthers had lit up Penguins’ backup netminder Jeff Zatkoff for six goals – three of which involved Barkov – and coasted to victory in front of a raucous opening night crowd at the BB&T Center in Sunrise. In total, Barkov earned 3 points (1G-2A-3P) in the Panthers’ 6-3 victory over the visiting Penguins while consistently showing off both his puck movement and protection abilities.

Although Barkov may not currently have the kind of hype that forwards like Sean Monahan or Tomas Hertl have built up early on this season, it’s performances like tonight that will keep hopes high both for the Panthers’ long-term future as well Barkov’s Calder Trophy hopes this season.

[Read more...]

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