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Penguins GM Shero: 'Whole idea' was improvement during playoffs

| Saturday, May 25, 2013, 10:39 p.m.
Tribune-Review
Penguins general manager Ray Shero.

General manager Ray Shero wanted four wins from the Penguins. Get those, and take it from there, he said. Get four more, and Shero will have rebuilt the Penguins into a Stanley Cup finalist.

With his club in the Eastern Conference final for the third time in six years, Shero assessed the Penguins halfway through what may be the Stanley Cup run that turns him and others into Hockey Hall of Famers.

What have you learned about this team this postseason?

From that first series, the (New York) Islanders really gave us a test and might have deserved a better fate than they got. The experience of our group in that series — our penalty kill was really good, our resiliency factor was really good. Being able to bounce back right after they scored, being able to kill big penalties, those were good signs.

In this series against a good opponent (the Ottawa Senators) that was much better than a seventh seed, in my opinion — having (defenseman Erik) Karlsson back, getting (center) Jason Spezza back and having a goaltender like (Craig) Anderson — that was a real dangerous team. I just thought we got better as that series went on, and that was the whole idea.

What about the job done by your coach, Dan Bylsma?

Even from the coaching staff to the players, the pressure in that first round was pretty enormous. To win that series, against a team that was basically carefree, the pressure was great. To win the way we won it, really battle back on many occasions — look, obviously I think Dan is a great coach, and we have a really strong coaching staff. These players were prepared.

We have different options. In Game 5 (Round 1), they came in the form of the goaltender (Tomas Vokoun) and (Joe) Vitale and Tyler (Kennedy). Those guys made a big difference to help us win that series. And now in this series, going back to (Jussi) Jokinen and getting different players — Mark Eaton — back in the lineup, there are just different options, and Dan is pushing the right buttons.

It's always easy to criticize. In this case, we have a good team and a good coach, and it's a good situation.

How tempted were you to not make any trades when the club you had assembled was rolling, even without Evgeni Malkin, through what would become an undefeated March?

What I've said before is we made four moves, major moves almost, and they were no guarantee of anything. If we had left the team alone — let's say we were up against the cap — who's to say we wouldn't be where we are right now? I don't know.We liked our team, certainly. But, as a group, we felt to make some sort of run, to have the depth and experience to play a variety of roles and to give ourselves the chance — the opportunity to do that might not come again. Guys like (Brenden) Morrow and (Jarome) Iginla are veteran guys who have not won the Cup before. It's always the balance of the chemistry and all that stuff, but knowing our group, we were willing to take that chance.

Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rrossi@tribweb.com or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.

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