Pascal Dupuis and other members of the Penguins organization who witnessed the Detroit Red Wings celebrating a Stanley Cup Championship in Pittsburgh described the feeling of watching Detroit skate around with the Cup as “sickening”.
It is do or die for Pittsburgh and they have all the motivation they need. Pittsburgh is 8-2 on home ice in the playoffs and 2-0 during the Stanley Cup Finals.
The defending Champs will be looking to repeat as champions tonight and close out the series.
What to Watch For
Will Marc Andre Fleury step up his game?
Stats in the Finals: (2W-3L, 3.30 GAA, .897 SV%)
Marc Andre Fleury has been horrid in Detroit and was pulled in game 5 after giving up 5 goals on 21 shots. How he responds remains to be seen and is a major question mark tonight.
Playing in front of the home crowd usually brings the best out of Marc Andre Fleury. He plays with a lot more confidence and doesn’t get rattled like he does on the road.
Pittsburgh has to get a strong performance from Fleury tonight or the Penguins will be golfing tomorrow afternoon.
Will Petr Sykora have any impact?
Petr Sykora is expected to return to the lineup for the first time in 15 games. Sykora will replace Pascal Dupuis or Miroslav Satan but will Sykora have any impact?
Sykora struggles can be attributed to his inability to play Dan Bylsma’s uptempo style. Sykora complained about Michel Therrien constantly but Therrien’s system fitted Sykora’s style of game which resembled the kind of system that Sykora played in New Jersey.
Where Sykora could maybe have an impact is on the power play. Sykora has had a nice jump in his step over the past week and it is not a bad idea to get him in the lineup over Pascal Dupuis or Miroslav Satan.
Pavel Daystuk/Henrik Zetterberg Combination
Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock will use Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg together in game 6.
Unless Bylsma gets Evgeni Malkin with Sidney Crosby (when matched up against Zetterberg’s line) , Crosby is going to be shorthanded going up against Datsyuk and Zetterberg.
Team officials want Bylsma to use Crosby and Malkin together more often. Crosby is getting no help from Chris Kunitz and Bill Guerin.
Kunitz has one goal in 22 playoff games.
Will Bylsma move away from his shutdown defensemen mindset
A major problem with Dan Bylsma’s coaching strategy in the Cup Finals has been his emphasis on using the pairing of Rob Scuderi and Hal Gill with Sidney Crosby.
By opting to have a shutdown pairing with Crosby’s line, it has hurt the Penguins transition game and has slowed Crosby’s ability to create offense in the neutral zone. Crosby needs a Kris Letang or Sergei Gonchar with him at all times.
It will be interesting if Bylsma moves away from this pairing like he did in game 3 but went back to it in games 4 and 5.
Crosby, Malkin will need to raise their games
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are regarded as two of the games top players. The pressure is on them to have a big night and force a game 7.
A few other notes
*Pittsburgh must play aggressive. At times they have played too conservative.
What fueled Pittsburgh’s wins in games 3 and 4 was their ability to drive to the net and establish a net presence. That will be a must tonight.