Game 6 Pre-Game
Tonight is another chance of a lifetime for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Stanley Cup Final has taken a bit of an odd turn since the Penguins Game 5 loss. There was such a buildup in the city Thursday night and confidence that they were going to end it, I don’t think we’ll see that type of buildup again, even if the series goes to a seventh game Wednesday night.
For the Sharks, they’ve been the inferior team that’s been chasing the series from the start and for the first time all series, a win tonight in Game 6 to stave off elimination again would put all of the pressure on the Penguins.
Pittsburgh’s resurgence into arguably hockey’s best team over the last three months will likely have many thinking that the opportunity over the next three to four years will be there to win multiple Cups.
Remember those expectations?
The championship window has reopened big time, but as the Penguins learned following 2009, nothing is guaranteed.
Pittsburgh had gone seven years between reaching the Stanley Cup Final, 2009 and now 2016. While it seems unlikely, this could be the last time in the Sidney Crosby era that the Penguins reach the Cup Final.
You just never know.
Bet Detroit thought they had another Stanley Cup run in them after 2009 with their core and the best coach in hockey behind their bench.
After winning the Stanley Cup in 2008 and losing to Pittsburgh in 2009, Detroit’s window with Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk just entering their early 30’s and Nicklas Lidstrom as the games most dominant defenseman still looked wide open for the next couple seasons following their 2009 Cup Final loss where they let Pittsburgh become just the 5th team in NHL history to come back from an 0-2 deficit.
They have never got back to the conference finals since 2009.
Detroit was a better hockey team than the Penguins in 09. They didn’t get the job done in a major missed opportunity.
The Penguins are clearly the better team vs the Sharks and have put themselves in great position with three ties to close out the series, 0-for-1 so far.
From Pittsburgh’s end you need to get the job done because the championship window is certainly reopened but the Stanley Cup isn’t viewed as the toughest trophy in sports to win for no reason.
These opportunities don’t come around often even when you have a generational talent on your roster like the Penguins have in Sidney Crosby.
The Murray narrative
The media is all over Matt Murray heading into Game 6 tonight and the pressure is amped up on him.
Murray was certainly outplayed in Game 5 and a big reason the Penguins loss, while Martin Jones was the reason the Sharks won.
Yet, we live in world where many have short memories.
Anyone remember Game 4?
The Penguins won 3-1 with Murray stopping 23 of 24 shots in posting a .958 save percentage. His counterpart Martin Jones allowed 3 goals on 20 shots, giving up a soft opening goal to Ian Cole.
There’s a love fest with Martin Jones right now and it was only a game ago where he had the type of performance Murray had in Game 5.
Murray’s biggest problem has been some inconsistency popping up in his game by letting in a soft goal and the low shot totals have played into this narrative that his game has drastically tailed off.
It really hasn’t tailed off.
In the Penguins taking a 2-0 series lead in the Stanley Cup Final, Murray posted a combined .938 save percentage in the two wins, including a .955 save percentage in a Game 2 overtime win.
This was coming off two elimination game wins vs the Lightning in Games 6 and 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals by posting a combined save percentage of .936 in those wins.
Some of the media and pundits will tell you that Murray’s play has been a problem since Game 3 vs the Capitals in Round 2.
Anyone remember his Game 4 performance vs the Capitals? Stopped 34 of 36 shots in a 3-2 overtime win. Or the Game 6 clinching win, stopping 36 of 39 shots.
Maybe this only happens in Pittsburgh where the Penguins are up 3-2 in the Stanley Cup Final and on Friday talk show hosts were blaming Mike Sullivan for not starting Marc Andre Fleury at the start of the Eastern Conference Finals.
Nonetheless, the low shot totals have led to Murray not getting enough credit for wins and a lot of blame when the Penguins’ lose.
Conn Smythe’s Sidney Crosby’s to lose?
18 Members of the media will vote on the Conn Smythe. Each voter puts down three players.
The race for now is a two-man race.Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"