@nizzy The Pens don't have to be carbon copies of that 09 team.
I think what too many, far too many fans want to believe is that the defensive woes are an individual thing. That might work if it were isolations we could directly point out of a guy being beat 1-on-1.
But hockey is a team sport. The problem this team has had since FHCMT left is a flat out lack of discipline and/or effort in their TEAM DEFENSE. We like to rip Martin to shreds, but the fact is many times there is little to no support from the forwards. The extremely large elephant in the room is the fact that Martin was fine in a defensively responsible NJ system.
While it's great to have individual defenders that can routinely win 1-on-1s, the fact of the matter is that those guys are few and far between as well as being handsomely paid. At the same time, HCDB's system asks the defense to contribute to offensive breakouts and pushes. That's a lot to ask of individuals. Outside of Letang, I don't think there is one Pen capable of providing stud 1-on-1 play as well as contributing offensively. You get warts with all these guys on the current roster. Despres and Morrow look like they'll do it, but they are wet behind the ears and certainly not reliable.
HCDB is the one responsible for the TEAM systems. And as the team has moved further away from FHCMT's strict defensive system, it's showing more and more.
Fans forget that the first year the Pens went to the Finals was the year Crosby suffered that broken leg. The team was ho-hum up to that point, January? Remember how they circled the wagons? Remember how they played TEAM first as a group to try and weather the storm until Crosby returned? It provided them a valuable, tangible reminder of TEAM ethic and cooperation. It took them to the Finals that year. Take away the shellshock first 2 games of that Finals, and the Pens scrapped to the end against vastly more experienced/talented Detroit.
After they quit on HCMT and got him fired, the effort returned. The system was only tweaked by NHCDB. The framework of FHCMT's strict defensive system/responsibilities still provided the bulk of that team's strength. They would go on to win the Cup.
Since that time, HCDB's system has overwritten that defense-first. And it's glaringly obvious ever since.
I'm not a fan OR hater of HCDB. However, I think that the Cup has allowed him far too much protection from criticism. And I tell anybody that will listen, that Cup was as much FHCMT's doing as it was HCDB's. Three straight years post Cup of colossal playoff disappointments is backing me up. Losing in the playoffs is nothing to be ashamed of. Losing in the playoffs to teams that are scrubs like Montreal and Tampa Bay, being blown off the ice by a Flyers team that was full of holes (that amazingly enough, other playoff coaches besides HCDB would exploit and annihilate), and watching the Pens absolutely come apart at the seams with NO STRUCTURE whatsoever? That is and should be unacceptable.
That was a team that lacked discipline, and HAD lacked discipline for a long time as evident in their play. Run-n-gun mentality that didn't change no matter the circumstance, lazy defensive efforts, players more in love with scoring than in stopping the other team from scoring, and a collective team effort about as soff as a baby's bottom. Ultimately, the coach is responsible for that. If we can blame FHCMT for being a d!ck, then we should also blame HCDB for being too stubborn and too nice.
Seeing as HCDB is back this year after ALL that I just said-- I don't see how it's going to change much. Which is what will make this an interesting year. Will HCDB improve his deficiencies? Or will it be more of the same?