Bylsma hopes for picture-perfect redemption

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:02 AM ET

PITTSBURGH -- It's a photo that will be framed in Dan Bylsma's mind forever.

Bylsma, then a winger for the Ducks under coach Mike Babcock, has a chance to bat the puck past Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur in Game 7 of the 2003 Stanley Cup final.

Bylsma fails to score, and the Devils go on to win 3-0 and hoist the Cup.

A reminder of that missed opportunity, depicted on the front page of USA Today, is now in a box in Bylsma's basement.

"I don't look at it, I don't pick it up. It's not something that I like to think about," the Penguins coach said yesterday as he gears up for another Game 7 showdown.

"(But) it's pretty much emblazed in my memory."

RARE SECOND CHANCE

Tomorrow, Bylsma and the Penguins have a chance to make new and lasting Stanley Cup final memories in a deciding game against the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena.

Second chances don't come along very often; Bylsma wants to make the most of his.

"That's the agony and the beautiful thing of sport, that we play a game, and we play it for some great reasons to win a Cup, to win a trophy, to be the best. When you don't get it, it's painful," said Bylsma.

"And when you get it, it's glorious, and you get a lot of good pictures. You take the bad ones if you don't win and you put them in a basement in a box.

"We're looking for one we can hang on the wall."

Bylsma joined the Penguins organization in the summer of 2006 as an assistant with AHL Scranton Wilkes-Barre, where he took over as coach before the start of this past season.

On Feb. 15, he got a call from Penguins GM Ray Shero offering the chance to take over from the fired Michel Therrien. The Penguins were 10th in the East. Four months later, they are a win from hoisting the Cup.

It's an unbelievable journey, even for Bylsma.

"I do think about it pretty much daily. I mean, my family has come to see me and it's like, 'Can you believe what's happening? Can you believe?' And I'm like 'not really, I can't believe it.' I'm not a person who likes to deny my thoughts or what I'm going through or ignore everything around me.

"Where we've come since last year at this time, since the start of the season, since Feb. 15, wherever you want to pick up the story line from, it's an amazing thing to have accomplished and earned. Win or lose (tomorrow), we should be proud of where we've come from and how we've played."

Bylsma has brought stability to the Penguins. He holds players accountable. He has been there before and is trying to calm the nerves of young stars like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

BROUGHT CONFIDENCE

"He has just brought a new sense of confidence into the room," said defenceman Rob Scuderi. "At the time (Shero) made the switch, things weren't going well for us.

"Sometimes when you just bring in a philosophy, it helps. It was pretty good from Day One ... now we're here."

Bylsma is drawing on his own Game 7 experience.

"I do remember it very vividly," said Bylsma. "That's going to happen this next game. There's going to be a chance. There's going to be a play, a blocked shot to score a goal. That's where we put ourselves, one game, a one-chance scenario. And there will be a picture the next morning."


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