Category Archives: COLUMN

Marc-Andre Fleury: Goalie, Teammate, Inspiration

What can be said about Marc-Andre Fleury that hasn’t already been said? Plenty!

Fleury the goalie…

Will have his name etched in the NHL and Penguins history books for a long time. “Flower” is one of only three goalies drafted 1st overall in NHL history. The other two were Michel Plasse of the Montreal Canadiens in 1968 and Rick DiPietro of the New York Islanders in 2000. Plasse lasted 299 games, DiPietro 318 games, while Fleury has racked up 691 NHL games and counting. In the Penguins history books Fleury exclusively holds six different team records. As I just mention Fleury has played in 691 games, a Penguins record for Games Played by a Goaltender. Other team records are as follows, Goaltender Wins 375, Shutouts 44, Most Games Played by a Goaltender in a season 67 (3x), and Most Shutouts in a Season 10.

But please, don’t let these incredible records distract those of you who’ve had a Jekyll and Hyde, love, hate, relationship with the 2x NHL All-Star, since his debut with the Penguins in 2003.

Oh, and please don’t turn an ankle jumping on and off the bandwagon for the 3x Stanley Cup Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist. As if those stats alone aren’t enough to warrant a city and fanbase’s unconditional love, Fleury is more than his records and stats, he’s and incredible teammate.

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Fleury the Teammate…

Is something that no one, not even the biggest anti-Fleury fan can deny. In fact, he has awards for that too. Twice in Marc-Andre Fleury’s career with the Penguins he has been awarded the Aldege “Baz” Bastien Memorial Good Guy Award. An award that not even the team’s owner Mario Lemieux has ever won. Fleury was even voted team MVP twice (2011, 2015) during his tenure with the Penguins. The team MVP has only been awarded to a goalie, three times since its inception in the 1967-68 season, in which Les Binkley (the team’s goaltender) was the initial recipient.

But moreover, to prove the validity and value of Marc-Andre Fleury as a teammate, are heartfelt quotes from his teammates, on his character and importance to his team during this year’s locker clean out day. Four of my favorites from that day are:

“It’s pretty clear what he means to this town. He rode in the truck behind me in the parade yesterday. Listening to the fans and everything that they said to him and the support they gave him … it’s pretty clear what he means to this community. I know what he means to this team. I haven’t played with many better teammates than him. I just remember when he stepped in for Game 1 of the playoffs, the way that he played and what he did for us, the way he stepped up. I know what he’s gone through these last couple of seasons, sitting next to him in the room. He comes to the rink with a smile every day. He does his best to support his teammates. It’s never about him. He’s a pretty unique person and a unique teammate. Whatever happens for him, whoever gets him, is going to be very lucky.” —  Matt Cullen

“It’s sad. He’s the type of guy that I want in my life at all times. If I could follow that guy around all day, I’d be happy. He’s such a fun guy to be around and I love that guy so much. He’s such a great player that he’s going to be good if he’s here or no matter where he is.” — Brian Dumoulin

“So happy to play with him. He’s the best teammate, best guy. I never met a guy that doesn’t like him or want to play with him. He’s unbelievable, and we’ll see what happens but I love him.” — Justin Schultz

“There’s not much you can say about Flower that isn’t great. He’s awesome. He’s one of the best teammates you can ask for. He’s always having a good time. He’s always welcoming guys. He’s always playing little pranks. I think that helps build chemistry. Having a guy like that on your team is special. It makes everyone a little bit closer.” — Bryan Rust

The final quote by Bryan Rust brings us to something that, thanks to Penguins marketing and media, we as fans have had the privilege to witness throughout the years, and that is Fleury’s pranks. Some of which you will see if you follow me on twitter (@benchbossx2) for 29 Days of Fleury Love aka #29Forever. The pranks and the silliness and the laughter and most importantly Fleury’s big smile are all apart of building chemistry in the locker room, on a professional team, that can tend to have personnel turnover from year to year. I see this every year in my job as a university hockey coach and it’s always incredible to see those types of players that can be the glue between the veterans and rookies, between the top line players and the healthy scratches. The hierarchy within the room can get complicated and be detrimental to a team’s success. The selfless teammate that “Flower” is, has become a large part of why this Penguins organization has been successful for so many years. I’m not sure many people realize this, but no one has been with the Penguins longer Fleury (since 2003) other than Mario Lemieux, Ron Burkle, Mike Lange, Paul Stiegerwald, and some of the Equipment Staff. Fleury has seen coaches and General Managers come and go. He has seen many teammates come and go as well. Yet, the lighthearted and often comical Marc-Andre Fleury remained as the pulse of the Penguins franchise. Yes, Sidney Crosby is the team’s Captain, leader and heart of the Penguins, but Fleury has been its soul for the better part of a decade. Fleury as a great teammate, cannot be replaced, nor can Fleury as the humanitarian and inspiration.

Fleury the Inspiration…

Marc-Andre Fleury’s selflessness does not end at the locker room doors. He has understood the commitment of a professional athlete who’s made his home in the city he has played for many years.

Most recently as we all know by now, Fleury and his wife designed, donated, and assembled a new playground to the Boys and Girls Club in the Stow Rocks area of Pittsburgh, as well as donating equipment and an indoor floor hockey rink for the club. The “29” on the playground’s floor will forever embody the spirit of Fleury no matter where his career takes him. However, this is not the first time the Penguins netminder has showed his love for the city and its communities.

As fans, we have seen Fleury give his time to different charity events, visiting children in the hospital, playing ball hockey with local youth players, visiting schools, participating as a coach in Crosby’s youth camps, and stopping along his way to wherever it is he’s going to sign autographs for fans.

Pittsburgh has long been the home of Marc-Andre Fleury and his family. If it is inevitable that his long tenure with the Penguins organization ends, there should be no doubt that he loves this city and its fans. When asked what he’d miss most about Pittsburgh, he summed it up in one word, “Everything!”.

For this fan, Fleury hasn’t been just a franchise goalie to watch. I remember witnessing the departure of Tom Barrasso a few years prior to Fleury’s arrival. As much as a I enjoyed watching him play and see the success of the team while he was with them, it was easy to see him go. The media scrutinized him and at the time I felt like I understood why. That is far from the feeling myself and many Penguins fans have about Fleury.

If this is to be the last time as a fan I get to witness Fleury donning the Penguins logo…

If this was the last season we witness him defending the Penguins net with Statue of Liberty glove saves…

If this is the last time we get to see Fleury move the furniture out of a teammates hotel room or do cartwheels in the Penguins runway or just see his smile behind a Penguins mask after robbing a rival player on a breakaway…

Then I will certainly be saddened.

I have watched Fleury since he came into the league and joined the Penguins as an 18-year-old kid fresh out of the QMJHL. I watch Penguins bounce him back to juniors several times, while stating “he just isn’t ready for the NHL, we need to let him develop”. Meanwhile, they just knew that it wouldn’t help his development to get shelled every night behind a floundering team. But they couldn’t publicly say that, of course. I watched as Fleury finally joined the team permanently and thinking, “Wow! He’s so athletic! He’s so good!” I remember being so excited that this kid is the Penguins franchise goaltender. Then I watched him grow as a goalie. He wasn’t just athletic anymore. He wasn’t just relying on his natural ability anymore. Fleury began to think the game and be selective with his saves. I watched as he got out of the truck in the 2009 Stanley Cup Parade and run by me high fiving fans. I’ve watched him spin, rub the posts, attempt to score a goal, attempt to get into a fight, be an intricate part of winning two more championships and capture the hearts of a city.

As a fan, I’ve been more than fortunate to watch Fleury’s career bloom with my hometown team. As a writer, who knows, maybe I’ll be just as fortunate, if by some chance “Flower” reads this. If he does, I hope what he takes from it is that, he will never be forgotten here in Pittsburgh.

Thank you, Marc-Andre Fleury, from the bottom of my heart, for all the wonderful memories you have given me and the Penguins fanbase. #29Forever

COLUMN: The Non-Move That Won The Pens A Cup

Let me start by saying that Sidney Crosby is deserving of the Conn Smythe. I do believe it should’ve gone to Evgeni Malkin but Crosby was just about as equally deserving.

But let’s make no mistake about it, had it been possible to give the Conn Smythe to a split tandem of Pittsburgh goaltenders, there’s no doubt in my mind they were the club’s most valuable players.

Without Marc-Andre Fleury, the Penguins don’t beat Washington. They probably squeak by Columbus with an average backup goalie because they were simply the better team. The game seven shutout of Washington in the second round was about as disheartening to a fan base as the inevitable Fleury trade will be for this one. He carried that momentum two games into the Ottawa series, then things went south.

A bad nine minutes in game three, where he allowed four goals on nine shots, will soon turn into the final outing that Fleury had as a Pittsburgh Penguin. Let me remind you, Fleury is considered the back up.

So, when the starter got his chance, he wasn’t going to look back.

Matt Murray was very good over the final four and a half games of the Eastern Conference Finals. He faced barrages from the Senators and battled tooth and nail with embattled Senators goalie Craig Anderson for a victory in seven games.

Murray took on the Cinderella story from Nashville. He opposed Pekka Rinne, a leader for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Finals, and thoroughly played better. The Penguins made Rinne look silly on several occasions. Although it seemed that mid-series that the Predators had figured Murray out, Mike Sullivan‘s confidence didn’t waiver. He stuck it out with Murray who repaid the coach with, not one, but TWO shutouts in the final two games of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Murray is still considered a rookie. He is the only player in NHL history to win two Cups as a rookie. While this comes on sort of a technicality, it doesn’t downplay the magnitude of him spearheading two Stanley Cup championships. Who’s to say the Penguins would or wouldn’t be in this situation today had Murray not hurt his groin in the pregame of the game one of the Blue Jackets series?

But that wasn’t the case. Fleury stepped in and did an admirable job. One that Tristan Jarry simply wouldn’t have been able to do.

Credit Jim Rutherford for that one.

As trade deadline day approached, an unsettling feeling grew within the stomach of Marc-Andre Fleury. He was drafted by the Penguins in 2003 and has played his entire career to this point with Pittsburgh. The rumors ran rampant that he’d be moved to another team as his trade value seemed to be plummeting ever so quickly after his truthfully horrible regular season.

Rutherford surprised everyone and stuck to his guns saying that it’s never a bad thing to have two goalies of the caliber that Murray and Fleury are. Rutherford wants to keep both goalies. It’s practically impossible at this point.

The impending Vegas Golden Knights franchise will be drafting in a few weeks to assemble their team for the upcoming year and Fleury is undoubtedly on their radar. After his playoff performance, he’ll be on a few other teams’ radar.

As I mentioned before, the Penguins don’t beat Washington without Fleury. It doesn’t happen. He was spot on against Alex Ovechkin and outdueled Braden Holtby with no reason to look over his shoulder.

Rutherford not moving Fleury is a credit to Rutherford’s intelligence as a general manager. It’s a huge reason why the Penguins repeated as Stanley Cup champions and why they have a legitmate shot to win yet again in 2018.

COLUMN: Penguins Haven’t Passed the Eye Test

We’re very close to game four’s puck drop, so I’ll keep this quick so you can still get your dinner ready, ordered, or eaten, your alcohol ready (hopefully for good reason), or whatever else you may want to do. Say your prayers, eat your vitamins, blah blah blah. I’m in the minority here and really the whole point here is to make people aware of something I’ve seen that most other people haven’t: the Penguins haven’t passed the eye test so far in the Final.

Now, before you go name calling or take a screenshot of this column to tweet out how awful my takes are, just open your mind and listen. 

Outside of the 3rd period of game two, the Penguins have either been slightly outplayed or massively outplayed by the Predators. Not only have the Predators outshot the Pens 97-67 in the first three games, but if it weren’t for Pekka Rinne playing really, really bad in the first two games, Pittsburgh might not have a lead in this series, or a win for that matter. 

That third period in game two was something special to watch. The Pens outhustled Nashville to loose pucks, took advantage of the aggressive play by Nashville defensemen to create odd-man rushes, and made their shots on Rinne count. Jake Guentzel has been fabulous finishing in front of the net so far. 

Just about everything else has been lackluster. If I have to make a case for why the Pens shouldn’t have won game one, you might need to rely on that old thing called the “eye test.” Outside of Nashville’s stupid back-to-back penalties in the first period, they dominated play. They won every puck battle and were a step faster all over the ice. 

Game two was more evenly played, but Nashville peppered Matt Murray, and if it weren’t for him standing tall in net, the Pens’ flurry in the third period would’ve been in desperation to tie, not runaway with the game. 

Game three started great. The first 10 minutes were pretty good, building off of the momentum from the end of game two. The momentum swung hard though, and Nashville dominated play again for the majority of the rest of the game, pounding the Pens 5-1. 

Overall, this just isn’t a 2-1 series lead that I can be confident in. The Penguins continue to have issues on the breakout, and at time, have zero transition game (we miss you so much Kris Letang), and Nashville just looks like the better team. Take the goggles off and watch who’s play dictates the pace of the game and which way the ice tilts. Trust your eyes, and don’t let your head or heart get in the way what’s really happened so far.

Now, the last three games are in the past. Mike Sullivan’s Penguins typically bounce back after bad performances and Murray doesn’t lose consecutive games very often. Those intangibles give me confidence going forward, but the tangibles tell me the Penguins should be thankful they have a 2-1 lead right now, and at this stage of the season, they are. Take a 2-1 lead however you can get it, but the play has to get better. Saying it’s impossible for Nashville to win 4 out of 5 is irresponsible and inaccurate. If anything, the play of the series so far tells you it’s very possible.

Here’s to the Penguins turning it around and giving the Nashville fans only county music to cheer about.

COLUMN: What Exactly Is Crosby’s Legacy?

Sidney Crosby has recently arose in conversations as a top 5 player all time, and it’s about time.  Crosby has easily reined the NHL as the best player in the league over the past ten years.  So if anything he is overdue for being considered by many as a top 5 player all time.  Crosby has many reasons to be considered, and I will try to touch on those.

To begin, the easiest argument would be his insane stats.  Right now he sits at sixth all-time on the points per game stat, which in my opinion, is a great stat to show how offensively talented a player is.  The reason being, that a player could play 1000 games and have 700 points, while a player that only played 600 games could have 600 points.  The points per game stat obviously shows that the second player had a better offensive impact as he averaged one point per game and player one only averaged .7 points per game.  Also, the fact that Crosby is sixth all time, and playing in the hardest era yet to score in is also a testimony to how great of a player he is.  The next closest player from this era on that list…is none other than Evgeni Malkin.  Crosby has also scored 100 plus points in 5 out of 8 seasons where he played more than 70 games.  If it wasn’t for all his injuries, we can only wonder how much his stat line would be improved. And lastly he has been a 1+ point per game player every season of his career.

The second thing that attributes to his ever-growing legacy is his extensive trophy case.  Crosby has already captained the Penguins to two Stanley cups and has a chance to captain them to their third if they can win two of the next five games.  Crosby also has two Olympic gold medals, one World Junior Championship gold, and a World Cup gold.  He also has a plethora of individual awards to tack onto that.  He has two Art Ross trophies, two Maurice Rocket Richard trophies, three Ted Lindsay awards, two Hart trophies, two Messier awards, one World Cup MVP, and one Conn Smythe trophy.  Those are his best trophies or awards, there are much more but listing them all would make the article an extra page long.

Lastly, Crosby’s play style can be argued as an equal if not better argument for him being a top 5 player all time.  Crosby was mainly offensive in his game up until roughly 2015.  Ever since 2015, Crosby’s ability to play both sides of the puck has really taken a fore front.  He is now more physical than ever on both sides of the puck, and has shown that he can shut his opponents down in key moments of the game.  Most analysts are using his two-way play to justify him being a top 5 player of all-time.  The same argument was used to show why Crosby was the best player in the NHL this year despite being slightly outscored by Connor McDavid.  McDavid is yet to show he can play adequate defense and it mainly offensive oriented.  Stats don’t show the whole story in sports, and Crosby’s play is what truly sets him apart from the rest.

Overall, it should be a no brainer that Crosby is a top 5 player all-time, however there are still critics out there.  The good news is that his legacy can only go on from here on out, and he still has many years left to leave his mark.

COLUMN: When It Reigns, It Pours

Anyone seen the Ottawa Senators? Maybe they were out too late last night celebrating goalie Craig Anderson‘s birthday because it sure seemed like it.

Anderson pulled off his best Marc-Andre Fleury impression by giving up four goals in the first period and giving his team virtually no chance to win. After absolutely dominating the Penguins in the first three games, Anderson has faultered over the past two and was even pulled in game five.

The Penguins took this one 7-0. It wasn’t close from Olli Maatta‘s opening of the scoring to Trevor Daley capping it off mid-way through the third on the power play, it was never in doubt.

The Penguins dominated from the opening face off. It was inevitable that they’d at least score but the seven goals weren’t just a fluke. They were legitimately the better team.

They know better than anyone as the defending champs that, when it reigns, it pours. As hungry as they were last year, they’re more hungry this time around.

I’ll give you this, the Penguins do look disinterested at times. They look tired, slow, sloppy, lackadaisical. You name it. But, they are a tired team after last year’s run. And I think they want nothing more than to win a Stanley Cup as a team that is nowhere close to 100%.

Between injuries, fatigue, and a lack of dominant performances from their star players, the Penguins want to win this to show the NHL that they legitimately are the best team in the league.

Take a look at the box score. There were two players in uniform this afternoon, sans Matt Murray, that didn’t put a shot on goal; Mark Streit and Jake Guentzel.

Everyone wanted in on the action tonight. That’s big. The team as a whole knew that they won’t score by looking for the perfect play and skating right into the trap. They used the momentum from a big series turning game four victory and zoomed into game five wanting it more. Poor Craig Anderson got abused on his birthday.

Another tidbit from the score sheet tonight: The Penguins had seven players with two or more points on the night. They got a three assist night out of Evgeni Malkin and Carter Rowney. Yes, Carter Rowney. He’s been sensational in this postseason.

Murray may not have been the star tonight despite his shutout but he deserves credit. He turned away 25 shots, which is a high number for how badly Ottawa was outplayed, for his first shutout this postseason in only his second start. He wants to be the Murray that won game after game last year to lead Pittsburgh to glory.

These reigning champions are one win away from moving to the Stanley Cup Finals for the second consecutive season. They want the chance to defend that title. 

Anaheim or Nashville await them if they are to win Tuesday. They control their own destiny now. It’s time to push through to the Finals.

COLUMN: Fleury Is Still The Man

Flowers bloom in the spring. And Marc-André Fleury is living proof of that. In a season where Fleury has dealt with one of the most uncomfortable situations in his NHL career, he is now doing his best imitation of a brick wall as the Penguins try to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions. And now, his play has helped elevate the Penguins to the Eastern Conference Final.

While the Penguins did drop game one of the conference final to Ottawa, Fleury has stood tall. He’s only allowed two goals in the last three game, two of those games being shutouts.

Then, game three happened. And it was as much of a nightmare as could possibly be dreamt by everyone wearing black and gold. Fleury gets yanked after allowing four goals on nine shots before the conclusion of the first period.

Now, here it is again: the goalie controversy. Matt Murray is healthy again (why Fleury was in net in the first place) and looked solid for the remainder of the abysmal game that was game three. So, now the debate is Murray or Fleury?

It’s Fleury.

Most of the time, I’ll give you the eye-popping stats to prove my point. That’s not what this column is about though. This is about the man putting up those numbers. What an amazing guy. What an amazing teammate. And this is stating the already obvious question of who the Penguins’ playoff MVP is.

It’s not even close. There’s not a counter-punch that’s worth hearing. The Penguins aren’t where they are right now if not for Fleury’s brilliance between the pipes. Yeah, they probably outlast Columbus, mainly because Sergei Bobrovsky was horrendous in net. The series, might’ve been a little longer, but I’d bet good money the Penguins still prevailed.

Do you think the Penguins survive Washington without Fleury’s play? Nope. Not at all. People can argue the intangibles all day about how the Caps are chokers or professional golfers, but they won the President’s Trophy for a reason. They were a dang good hockey team. Skill, grit, defense, and goaltending. They had it all. And at times in games one and two, Washington suffocated the Penguins in their own zone. Fleury was brilliant. He kept the Penguins in it and gave them more and more opportunities to get a go-ahead goal instead of a goal to cut into a Washington lead. It’s a totally different series if Washington even splits the first two games.

If you follow me on twitter (@chalicke), you know my stance on Kris Letang. The Penguins are a very different team without him on the ice. With his absence, the Penguins inability to breakout of their zone, or have any kind of transition game for that matter, sticks out like a sore thumb. Along with the first period of game three against Ottawa, watch the third period of game five and all of game six against Washington. It was ridiculous. Zero breakout. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. Couldn’t even clear the puck out of the zone without icing it. The Penguins’ game relies a lot on the ability to breakout of the zone quickly and efficiently, enabling the forwards to move through the neutral zone with speed. Letang is one of the best in hockey at it. There’s probably only two or three in all of hockey that are better. I love Justin Schultz, but he’s a major step down from Letang in that aspect. Knowing the Penguins would struggle mightily at times breaking out of the zone, they might become susceptible to teams with a really good forecheck, like Washington. The Penguins don’t survive that series without Fleury’s dominance. It just doesn’t happen.

And now, Schultz goes down with a shoulder injury (we have yet to know for how long). Now the burden of breakout just got more interesting. With Schultz out for however long, Mark Streit or Trevor Daley step in, who are both good puck movers, but game three was the first game action Street saw in over a month. It’s hard to just rely on a guy to step in who hasn’t played all playoffs and match the intensity of his teammates or the opposition. Daley just doesn’t look healthy out there. He’s a great skater when healthy, and he’s able to use that skating ability to elevate his game, but you can tell the knee injury is slowing him down and it’s costing in the defensive zone. He just doesn’t look like the same player.

Game three Wednesday night was another example of poor defensive play and a lack of any type of transition game. It didn’t matter who was in goal, they were left out to dry. Anyone who wants to pin the loss on Fleury is dead wrong.

Mike Sullivan has now announced that the starter for game four will be announced Friday morning. He could be doing it to mess with Ottawa, but either way, benching Fleury after everything he’s done to get the team this far is the worst “screw you” ever. I’m a Sullivan guy and don’t think he’d do that to Fleury, but if he does, that’s a really bad decision I don’t agree with at all.

The bottom line is that the Penguins would already be teeing off in the morning instead of catching flights across the border still battling for the Stanley Cup if not for Fleury. I know just about everyone realizes this. At least, I hope you do. Marc-André Fleury is one of the greatest Penguins of all time. This is likely his last hurrah with them, and it’s hard to name a better teammate since 2003 than the Flower. People just won’t know what they have until it’s gone.

COLUMN: It’s Go Time

It’s Wednesday. Tonight, the Penguins will look to win their fourth game of the series and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals against the Ottawa Senators all while avoiding becoming the first team to allow the Capitals to get to the Conference Finals for the first time in the Alex Ovechkin era.

But this isn’t even about that.

The narrative that the Capitals don’t win the big games is there. The narrative that Ovechkin will never win a Stanley Cup is there. The “Penguins blew a 3-1 lead” narrative would be there.

It’s not even about those.

It’s about how the Penguins respond. As a team that has been pegged as one of the most resilient teams in the NHL, what gives with the two flattest performances in a long time in games five and six? The stars have gone cold and the fans have gotten colder.

Here’s a narrative for all of you: How many of you actually believed at the beginning of this series that we’d breeze through the Capitals in five games? I can guarantee not many of you did. I didn’t.

I had “#PensIn6” at the beginning of the series and that, to me, was best case scenario. Here we are. The NHL’s two best regular season teams in a game seven for a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals. I don’t think it gets much better.

Of course, panic sets in because Washington was able to win two straight games and have all the momentum going home to Washington. But how do you define momentum?

“The impetus gained by a moving object,” is the non-physics definition of momentum. If you watch a hockey game, you’ll know that both team’s are moving objects. There is no physical object moving from game to game aside from time.

And it’s go time for the Penguins.

The Sidney Crosby‘s and Evgeni Malkin‘s of the world need to get going. The Phil Kessel‘s of the world have yet to show up to the playoffs. Luckily, Marc-Andre Fleury has absolutely stolen three wins in this series. It’s time the team wins for him.

It’s inevitable that this is Fleury’s last ride in a Penguins’ uniform with the emergence of Matt Murray and the looming expansion draft. I would hate for that pathetic 5-0 loss to be the final time Fleury plays in PPG Paints Arena while donning a Penguins uniform.

Mike Sullivan will need to be better, too. Go back to what worked. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Whatever the hell that game was on Monday night, that was broke. So it needs fixed.

And there is a simple fix.

Take Conor Sheary OFF of Crosby’s line. Take him so far off that he’s witnessing the game from the press box. Put Guentzel back on Crosby’s line where he leads the NHL in goals for the playoffs. They were together for all of a few shifts last night and managed to score a goal in the waning minutes. Guentzel scored, Crosby assisted.

And by all means, shoot the puck.

Watching the Penguins power play on Monday was abysmal. The constant passing and looking for the perfect shot drive me crazy. Braden Holtby has not been good in this series at all. The Penguins are not putting shots on him. He’s had 3 different instances where he’s faced less than twenty shots and has given up two or more goals in each game. He’s 1-2 in those games.

If the Penguins just throw shots at him like the Pirates give up home runs, then the Penguins will win that game. Mark my words.

It’s go time, Pittsburgh. Let them hear you in Washington. Keep the dream alive. But just remember, if the Penguins do lose, it’s nearly impossible these days to repeat as Stanley Cup champions.

The Penguins are 5-0 in game seven’s on the road in franchise history. They’ve done it in Washington twice. Tonight, the Penguins need to be immortal and do so again to avoid becoming a part of a very familiar meme…