Before the Penguins even lost Game 7 against the Rangers this year, rumors were already swirling that Dan Bylsma, head coach for the Penguins, was running on borrowed time. Once they lost, rumors of Bylsma’s firing had gone from rumors to foregone conclusions.
But is that the right move, or premature? It would certainly make some fans happy, but it may not be the best move for the Penguins.
Recently, two things happened concerning Colorado Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov. The first is that he wasnominated for a Vezina Trophy as a cap to his great season. This season he racked up 41 wins (the most by any NHL goaltender) and had a save percentage of .927 (the third best of any NHL goaltender). His excellent performance is most likely what made the Colorado Avalanche a playoff team at all.
The second thing that happened was that, during a playoff game against the Minnesota Wild, Varlamov was taunted by Wild fans with pictures from his arrest earlier this year after he was accused of beating his girlfriend. (Warning: description of the crime at the link is both violent and graphic.)
These two things, at the outset, are not linked. After all, Varlamov was cleared of all charges (the defense declared themselves unable to make a case proving his crime beyond all reasonable doubt), and the incident seemed largely swept under the rug, only to be brought up by opposing fans hoping to get a rise out of Varlamov. Varlamov went on to have, as previously mentioned, an excellent and possibly award-winning season.
But should that be the end of the story? Should Varlamov even be in the running for the Vezina after this incident? Should his potential crimes be, by and large, ignored?
The Penguins went into the first round facing the Columbus Blue Jackets in what turned out to be a fast-paced, often surprising, and hard-fought battle. The Penguins emerged victorious after six games, battling back after many lost leads and goal deficits. But three storylines stood out as top narratives for this first-round playoff battle: