It’s Tuesday, April 4th, 2017 and Phil Kessel is a Stanley Cup Champion. This much is known.
What is not known is whether Pittsburgh will be the beneficiaries of home-ice advantage for the inevitable playoff series against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Do you want it that bad? I, personally, could care less.
Tonight is the ultimate regular season Stanley Cup game for the Blue Jackets. Nothing would give them more confidence heading into the playoff series than beating a Sidney Crosby led Penguins team.
It is fan appreciate night. A few lucky fans will be selected to receive a player’s jersey autographed on the ice after the game. The Penguins will the endure a three game road trip to end the regular season.
This game isn’t actually as big as you think.
Let’s play a game…
Would you rather be risking a few cheap shots from a physical team in Columbus, or limp into the playoffs with what is already a depleted lineup?
I’ll take the latter.
Rest Crosby. Do not let him step foot on the ice in tonight’s game. He’s practically for the Rocket locked up. He’s more than likely NOT going to catch young Edmonton Oilers phenom Connor McDavid in the points race. So why let the Blue Jackets hack and whack and beat his body up when he’s going to be the driving force for the potential repeat attempt.
You know what else they should do? Start Marc-Andre Fleury.
THIS GAME MEANS NOTHING.
Let your playoff starting goalie rest up. The Penguins have a back to back this week to look forward too. This would allow both Fleury and Matt Murray two starts over the final four games.
There is a strong chance that if Murray plays good in the playoffs that tonight could be the final chance to play Marc-Andre Fleury at PPG Paints Arena in front of his home crowd. Give him the chance to do so, and even if he does play a playoff game at home, then big deal.
With Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, and Trevor Daley out, amongst others, the Penguins can’t afford injuries.
If you let the Blue Jackets win tonight and potentially take home ice against a Crosby-less Penguins hockey team, what confidence does that give Columbus? Big freakin’ deal.
I’m 90% sure head coach Mike Sullivan won’t do this. He’ll run Murray and Crosby out there tonight because it’s in the best interest of the team to grab home-ice advantage for the first round.
For some context, the Penguins went 7-4 on the road in the 2016 playoffs on their way to a Stanley Cup. Not to mention winning game six on the road in San Jose.
The already depleted health of the Penguins is much more important in the gran scheme of things than playing on the road in these playoffs because a full healthy playoff team could make just as much noise as last year.
The ball is in your court Sullivan.