To whom much is given, much is expected.
And as hockey fans are well aware, much has been given to Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma.
With a lineup featuring Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin — and bolstered before the trade deadline by the likes of Jarome Iginla and Brenden Morrow — Pittsburgh went into the playoffs as the betting favorite to win the Stanley Cup, just as it did last year before falling in the first round to the Flyers. (And in rather embarrassing fashion, at that.)
So, naturally, the question is being raised after last night’s double-overtime thriller in Boston — if the Penguins are swept by the Bruins, will Bylsma keep his job?
“I’m not coaching, don’t coach, have never coached for my job,” Bylsma said today when asked what was at stake for him personally in this series.
“I coached this hockey team in 2009. I came here to win hockey games, and that’s where we’re at right now.
“We know what’s in front of us. We know exactly what’s in front of us, with the odds, being down 0-3.
“But, I believe in that group, I believe in that team, I believe in how we battled and how we’re going to battle, and we’re going to go in knowing we have an elimination game to win Game 4.”
Bylsma, of course, helped the Penguins to the Stanley Cup in 2009, and he was named the NHL’s coach of the year in 2011 after leading them to the playoffs despite injuries to Crosby and Malkin.
And even with all the firepower they currently boast up front, the defense and goaltending were question marks heading into the postseason, and they still are.
Which is to say, it’s hard to see general manager Ray Shero firing Bylsma if the Pens lose to a very good Bruins team in the conference finals.
Just don’t expect today to be the last time the question is asked.