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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Thirsty Thursday by @Medina_Marie17

Containing my excitement is going to be extremely difficult, if not impossible. The Penguins are one win away from another Stanley Cup Championship…just one. They will have 3 shots at that win beginning Thursday night and hopefully will only need Thursday night.

Just for a second, take yourself back to November/ early December. What were you thinking at that time? Here are a few examples:

“FIRE Johnson”

“Fire Rutherford”

“This team has no chance”

“No playoffs for the Penguins this season”

“I am going to die”

“Trade everyone and start over”

“The window has closed. Trade Sid and Geno for picks”
I have no issue admitting that I had uttered at least 5 of those examples, especially the first two. Mr. Rutherford I am so sorry.

I had nervousness about me last night going into Game 4. All the hype about Metallica (underwhelming by the way) and the home crowd and the questions revolving around Malkin and Murray, I was ready to hyper-ventilate come puck drop.

Then in stepped Ian Cole. Yes…Ian Cole. The one I described as being as soft as a “fuzzy little bunny rabbit” back I December when he seemed to be afraid to throw his weight around or even shoot the puck towards the net. Off an incredible rebound set up by Evgeni Malkin (we will get to him in a minute), Cole rips the puck past the diving net minder, Martin Jones. This is also when an audible THUD could be heard….that was 18,000 jaws hitting the floor in the Shark Tank alone.

Power Plays have been scarce in this series; sadly, the Penguins have still been struggling with developing offense from them. They got some good looks on their first man-advantage but no points up on the jumbo-tron.

Their second opportunity was a thing of beauty. Chance after chance, you could just feel something was going to happen. Then, as if by divine providence, Malkin takes a feed from Kessel right in front of the net.


FINALLY! Dad-powers engaged. With that weight off his shoulders, I expect the flood gates to be open from now on. When Malkin finds the net, he finds it again and again. This was his first goal of the series and only his 2nd in 16 games. Malkin had since been held pointless in the first three games of the series.

After the game, opening goal-scorer, Ian Cole, had this to say about his centerman:

“Malkin’s a world-class player. He’s been going through a rough stretch, but contributing in ways other than on the scoresheet. Obviously you saw how good he is when he turns it on. When he contributes like that, it’s huge for our team.

The Penguins would begin the 3rd period with a 2-0 lead. But no one expected the Sharks to back down.
With the Sharks on a heavy push, Melker Karlsson was able to sneak one past Matt Murray to cut the Penguins lead in half. And we all said:

“…Here we go again!”

It is no secret that when the Penguins have a lead in the third period, they tend to start to sit back and play “protect” defense. It has or has nearly cost them games in the past including during these playoffs. It drives everyone crazy.

To the delight of fans, it seemed as if Karlsson’s goal woke the Penguins players (and probably some Sharks fans that were napping) back up and all the men in white began to attack once more. To capitalize on any opportunity, the Penguins had to keep paying smart hockey AND take the continued beating and heavy hitting the Sharks were dishing out.

Murray had the bounce back game of his life. After a rather uneventful first and second period, the Sharks came with fire and many wondered how Murray would respond after the Karlsson goal and sustained pressure from the Sharks. They don’t call him “Matty Ice” for nothing. Although the Sharks were finally able to outshoot the Penguins for a game, they were only able to register 1 goal from it.

Murray would go on to make a total of 23 saves and in doing so, would flat out rob Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau on breakaways. He would also make a key save against (still pointless) Joe Pavelski on an odd-man rush.

That insurance goal was needed though and it came from someone who deserved it the most. With just over two minutes remaining in the game, Eric Fehr gets a golden opportunity/. Carl Hagelin takes a loose puck off the boards, throws a pass to Fehr cutting down the middle of the ice and Fehr puts a wicked beaut past Jones to seal the game.

So that’s it kiddos. Thursday night…back at Consol Energy Center the Pittsburgh Penguins have the chance to raise the Cup on home ice. Although I am sure the anticipation and excitement is hard to suppress, the Penguins have to remain calm, cool, collected and focused on the task ahead. They have three games to seal the deal but getting it done sooner than later is never a bad thing.

We don’t need to change a thing, just keep playing the same way we’re playing and the results will take care of themselves” said Captain Sidney Crosby during the post-game interviews.

This team…these men…are something special. The brotherhood in that locker room is something like no one has ever seen before. Thursday night, in front of a packed house and thousands outside on the lawn and roads, it will be chaos. I will say this now, if you are AT the game and inside the building, if you come home with any sort of a voice then you didn’t do your job. No one should leave there being able to talk without sounding like a sick mouse. Reporters and commentators all said that Games 1-2 were the loudest Consol had ever been. It needs…to…be…louder than that!

No matter what, keep the team’s spirits up and let them know you are there for them and that you support everything and anything they have done and will do.

“All it is is an opportunity,” Cullen said after Game 4. “Unless you take advantage of it, it doesn’t mean anything.”

Every opportunity has led to this. Penguins. Sharks. Game 5. Lord Stanley’s Cup will be in Consol Energy Center. I guess there is only one thing left to say….. #DoItForDuper

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