Penguins basking in Game 7 pleasures and pain
Among the memories that Penguins head coach
Though the newspaper clipping about the Ducks' 3-0 loss is saved somewhere, Bylsma says, "I don't look at it, I don't pick it up. It's not something that I like to think about. It's pretty much emblazoned in my memory."
It's an experience the 38-year-old coach probably never imagined he'd be able to replace, until now. With his Penguins forcing a seventh game Tuesday night, Bylsma finally has a chance to taste the sweetest victory, having already consumed most bitter defeat. "I don't want that experience again," he said. "I had it in '03. I know these guys had it last year. I don't think they want to gain that experience again."
Bylsma's road back to this point started on February 15, when he became the unlikely replacement for
"Dan brings a lot of energy every day," center
The change in philosophy jump-started a remarkable comeback, from tenth to fourth place in the Eastern Conference in a matter of eight weeks. Starting with a five-game road trip, the team was reminded just how good it can be. "We won the first three, and then we made a couple of trades, picked up
With their new additions helping out, and the return of defenseman
But they really can't relish anything yet. What the Penguins achieved this season will only be sour consolation if they don't find a way to win in Joe Louis Arena on Friday night. Pittsburgh has scored just twice in three games in Detroit while the Red Wings put 11 past Penguins goalie
The loose pucks, the one-on-one struggles, the face-offs, the shots and the goals, they won't ever mean more than they will on Friday. It's the moment they wait for, dream of, fantasize about all their lives. "We played a hundred and something games this season, and it comes down to one game. How special is that?" Penguins forward
It's an opportunity of a lifetime, and the biggest challenge these Penguins have ever faced. And while getting their best from their support players, as they did in Game 6, is great, what they will need is the best game from their stars.
Crosby, too, has his own picture imperfect moment. In an NHL promo that asked, "Is this the year?" the Penguins captain pops out of an iconic image of defeat from last year's Cup final. He stares into the camera and says, "I never want to be in this photograph again."
Well, Sid, here's your chance. Your coach surely understands how you feel.