Can They?

Zero wins and six losses.

Such a terrible record for a team that has accomplished so much, but this is the Pittsburgh Penguins record in series clinching home games under the coaching of Dan Bylsma. The trend started out as a sign of good competition, but ended with a failure of epic proportions.

In the 2009 playoff run, the Pittsburgh Penguins had a chance to end their opening round series against the Philadelphia Flyers at home, but they put out a terrible effort in 3-0 loss. The Pens would put it together and win the series on the road, but they would start a bad habit that would follow them for years.

 While it would be years of the same, it was in the semi-finals against the Washington Capitals that the next instance would occur. The Penguins were coming off an emotional overtime victory in game five and looked to pull off the same overtime win in game six. The Capitals would not allow this though, beating the Penguins at home in game six with an overtime shot by Mike Green. Once again though the Penguins would go on to win the cup.

It was the next four times in which the Penguins had chances to clinch that would haunt them for years to come. In 2010, the year after the Penguins had won the Stanley cup, the Penguins would fail to end their opening round series against the Ottawa Senators at home. The Pens would take the series in six games, with the final coming in Ottawa, but the trend continued.

In the very next series, against the Montreal Canadiens, Pittsburgh would lose the deciding game seven at home. It was the last game ever at the Civic (Mellon) Arena and it showcased the difficulties of winning back to back Stanley Cups as the hot goaltender Jaroslav Halak ended Pittsburgh’s dreams.

Finally, in 2011, the Pittsburgh Penguins had entered the playoffs as one of the most surprising teams in the league. Without the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the Penguins held strong onto their playoff spot. They would play the upstart Tampa Bay Lightning, who had one of the most dangerous power plays the league had seen. The Lightning would win games five, six, and seven, with five and seven coming in Pittsburgh.

This dramatic failure would send Pittsburgh to the record of zero wins and six losses in home clinching games under Dan Bylsma. It is a horrid record, despite only two of the five series ending in series losses; it does not promote the championship instinct.

Tonight the Pittsburgh Penguins have an opportunity to end their series against the Ottawa Senators. They have the opportunity to do it at home and stop a streak that has resulted in absolute failure since the Stanley cup victory of 2009. It is time for the Penguins to show if they truly have the killer instinct and finish off the pesky sens.