Game 6 'Ultimate Test' In Pens' Quest For Stanley Cup

May 23, 2016

For a Pittsburgh sports fan, the Monday afternoon blues are all too familiar following a Steelers loss on a Sunday.  Today’s Monday blues are brought to you by the blue and white, or rather, the Tampa Bay Lightning, whose quick overtime rally them to defeat the Penguins 4-3 to lead the series 3-2 Sunday night. 

Bob Dvorchak, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Sportswriter Emeritus, joined Essential Pittsburgh to discuss this playoff series and the Penguins’ chances of a Cup run. 

Dvorchak said Sunday’s game was an odd one for the Pens' bench. Defenseman Kris Letang did not play his best, Trevor Daley was out with a broken ankle and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made his first start in months.  Although the Penguins did not play to their full potential in Game 5, Dvorchak does not discount the skill and speed of the Lightning.

“The Lightning is a strong opponent,” Dvorchak said. “It’s a big matchup for the Penguins.”

Following a loss, it is easy to play the blame game, Dvorchak added.  Much controversy stirred over which goaltender coach Mike Sullivan should play in Game 6: the experienced, Stanley Cup winner Fleury, or the dazzling, young and talented Matt Murray.

“Pointing fingers and blaming at this point is just a little premature,” Dvorchak said. “This is the roller coaster ride of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.”

Murray acted as the backbone of the team while Fleury grappled with a concussion, and continued to start following Fleury’s clearance as a result of outstanding effort.  He was replaced by Fleury in the 3rd period of Game 4.  However, Dvorchak believes the plan all along was to try and get Fleury back in net, and thus, predicts he will start in Game 6 in Tampa.

“He [Coach Sullivan] will make the decision based on what gives him the best chance to win,” Dvorchak said.

Coach Sullivan is set to announce his starting goaltender on Tuesday morning as the Penguins travel south in hopes of keeping their Cup dreams alive.

After all, as the old saying goes, the playoffs do not truly begin until you face an elimination game on the road.  Game 6 will be the ultimate test. 

More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be heard here.