Bob Smizik: Can Bylsma keep his job?

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Nobody asked me, but ...

• A poll question to start the day: If the Penguins defeat the New York Rangers in their conference semifinal series, which they lead two games to one, and then lose to the Boston Bruins in the final, should Dan Bylsma be kept on as coach? If that scenario takes place, the Penguins will not have underachieved.

• If the Penguins, who beat the Rangers, 2-0 last night, lose this series, Bylsma, beyond doubt, should be fired. Which leads to poll question No. 2: If the Penguins beat New York and then lose to Montreal in the conference final, what’s your take on Bylsma’s future?

• Josh Harrison is not the long-term answer in right field for the Pirates. But the job is his as long he continues to play in the otherworldly manner he has the past three games -- 6-for-12 with two triples and a double.

• Correct me if I’m wrong, but after scoring his first goal of the playoffs last night, would it be appropriate to say Sidney Crosby was smiling like a butcher’s dog?

• In his latest mock draft at ESPN.com, Todd McShay has the Steelers taking Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller, 5-11, 190, in the first round.

• Pirates starter Jeff Locke was the definition of "mixed bag" last night. He gave San Francisco two runs on four hits in the first inning. He was charged with four runs on four hits in the sixth. In between, he retired 12 straight batters. When the Pirates need a fifth starter again later this month, Brandon Cumpton looks to be a better option than Locke.

• How about Jussi Jokinen? His goal last night was his fifth of the postseason, which is not only the team lead but as many as Crosby and Evgeni Malkin have combined.

• How the Pirates rank by position in OPS in the National League (stats through Sunday): C: 14th, .617, 152 points below the average; 1B: 13th, .725, 91 below average; 2B: 2nd, .820, 150 above average; SS: 15th, .416, 280 below average; 3B: 6th, .734, 44 above average; LF: 12th, .660, 58 below average; CF: 2nd, .928, 210 above average; RF: 13th, .593, 121 below average; team: 10th, .677, 23 below average.

• Southern Power: Florida State had the most players selected in 2013 NFL draft, with 13. Four SEC schools followed: Alabama, LSU, Florida (all with nine) and Georgia (eight).

• With a second consecutive shutout of the Rangers, Marc-Andre Fleury has silenced his many critics -- until the next time the Penguins lose.

• The changing game: In 2000, 17 MLB teams scored more than 800 runs. In 2006, 13 scored more than 800. Last year, only Boston scored more than 800 runs.

• Changing game II: In 2004, 37 players hit at least 30 home runs. Last year there were 14. In 2004, 28 players had an OPS over .900. Last year there were 11.

• There’s no post-game show in the Pittsburgh market, radio or television, more informative and more honest than the one Bob Grove does on WXDX-FM following Penguins games.

• When Harrison cools down, the Pirates have to give serious thought to promoting Andrew Lambo.

• Interesting concept that will never happen: Buster Olney of ESPN.com quoted an unnamed MLB executive saying baseball would be better off playing seven-inning games. Not only would it save the arms of pitchers, such games are more attuned to the 21st century attention span. Of course, no more 3,000 hits, 500 homers, etc.

• Promoting Lambo would involve a roster decision since Travis Snider and Jose Tabata are out of options. Which means, given Neal Huntington’s well-known aversion to losing players no matter how awful, a promotion of Lambo might not be as imminent as it should be.


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