We all know that Fleury hasn't been eh.. stellar. Far from it.
Still the reality is that our roster is far superior to the Islanders. That's a fact - and that includes the goaltenders.
But, watching the game last night, I couldn't but wonder what the coaching staff is doing.
While some could argue that our D backs a little bit too much in our zone, that's not the main problem. The main problem is our so called system. It's something I hadn't seen since some sub par teams I used to coach against in junior A/AA/AAA and we basically did the same as the Isles, clog up the neutral zone, and try to play it to the open ice between their D and F, gain speed and have a 2, 3 or 4 guys on their one or two players
That's the problem. No defense in the history of the NHL is able to sustain such pressure in a seven game setting. You have to have team defense, and that doesn't include players standing at the opposition blue line, looking like bug-eyed fat walruses
First of all, you should always have preferably at least four players between your goal and the puck, when opposition controls it. Great teams have all five. That makes it really hard for the opposition. Right now, the Penguins have one or two. The defencemen. Who are easy to blame after Fleury picks up another octopus off the net.
What happens right now is that Bylsma and co. push forwards near the opposition blueline - regardless of what the Islanders do. Our D carries puck up the ice, near our blue line, often stand still at the blueline - worst place ever to lose it, and tries to find an open passing lane, for a long, difficult pass. There is no puck support between face off dots on our zone and the red line. That's the problem. That's a pathetic way of coaching. Unbelievably dumb. There should be numerous options to make a safe pass, however short that may be. Right now, there's none - maybe a D to D, but that doesn't solve anything, since the situation doesn't exactly change on the forwards' part - only slows it.
What happens is that there's surplus of open ice at center - an excellent habitat for speedy Isles. The gap between our D and F grows to contain almost all of neutral zone - something that doesn't happen at level A in junior. Why are the Penguins doing it? We could blame the players for all the mistakes they have made, but the real problem is that the "system" puts them into difficult situations where errors, especially when forced, are likely to occur. How can a defenceman get the puck to the forwards - and for the forwards to recover, if they lose it? Doesn't happen.
The problem isn't the defense - or the forwards for that matter. It's the cooperation between them. There's none. You can't defend by only backchecking after opposition has already gained the neutral zone and is coming at you full speed. What happened to the basics of hockey? Puck support? Gap control?
Sorry, but the biggest blame rests on Bylsma's wobbly shoulders. He has no business in this series. It's really worrisome that they keep saying that they have to get "back to their game", like Neal said yesterday. Their "game" has been exposed. They need to change it. There's no going back to it as it doesn't work. If they still haven't figured that out, we are setting for a big failure. A big, big failure.
Fortunately I believe that a raw talent will turn this in our favor, but our coaching staff sure seems pretty inferior by NHL standards.