This year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs can be described with one word that has become synonymous when talking about the Pittsburgh Penguins in the playoffs over the past five seasons; underperforming. After blowing a 3-1 series lead to the New York Rangers, co-owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle find themselves faced with tough decisions needing to be made. Since winning the Stanley Cup in 2009 head coach Dan Bylsma hasn’t been able to get the Penguins back. He has been outcoached in the playoffs during the past five seasons specifically in the Boston series last year where he couldn’t make the necessary adjustments and as a result the Pens were swept while only scoring 2 goals. After an embarrassing showing in game 5 at home with a chance to close out the series, questions about Bylsma’s ability to lead this team arose again. It appears as if “Disco Dan’s” time in Pittsburgh is up after coming up short in another embarrassing early postseason exit.
General Manager Ray Shero’s fate seems to be sealed as well. Many people questioned Shero’s decision to give Bylsma a contract extension after the Penguins lost to the Bruins in horrendous fashion. Now that Bylsma and the Penguins have underperformed yet again it appears that it will cost them their jobs. The changes don’t stop at the front office though. This is a team that needs to gain a new identity because the one they’ve had for the previous 5 seasons isn’t getting the job done. The expectations in Pittsburgh are Stanley Cup or bust every season and whether fair or unfair, when a team supposedly has the two best players in the world a .500 record in the playoffs since 2009 isn’t going to be good enough.
With Crosby, Malkin and Letang all signing long term deals this Penguins team doesn’t have much room to work with in terms of cap space. The abysmal signing of Rob Scuderi hinders the Penguins ability to move him and it appears they are stuck with him. James Neal who has become known as of late for stupid offensive zone penalties and questionable plays is a candidate to possibly be traded this summer. There are a few key contributors that are unrestricted free agents this offseason and it may be hard to retain them. Matt Niskanen and Jussi Jokinen are the two main players that the Penguins need to figure out how to keep along with restricted free agent Brandon Sutter. The upcoming draft is another place the Pens must turn to and look to get younger forwards to help get this team over the top. One way or another the Penguins will have a new look come October and hopefully they can make all the necessary changes to get them back to postseason success.