The defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins have lost two games in a row and now find the Cup Final knotted at two games apiece. Are the Penguins bad at hockey now? Maybe, maybe not.
What we do know for sure is that many people on the Internet have advice for the Penguins coaches and players on how to begin winning anew. Unfortunately, unlike Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan isn’t on Twitter so we can’t at him directly with our very helpful tips. Not a problem, though. I have compiled all of the advice right here. Now it’s on the Penguins to read it, execute it, and then roll with ease to another Cup.
Tip 1: Start Fleury in Game 5
Who is this advice from?: Approximately 50 percent of people in Western Pennsylvania.
What’s the logic?: Matt Murray has been outplayed in net by Nashville’s Pekka Rinne over the last two games, resulting in the first back-to-back playoff defeats of his young career. After being out for a month and then dropped into the Eastern Conference Finals, Murray might be gassed — and the Penguins have the luxury of having another playoff-tested netminder ready to go who was just recently playing the best hockey of his career.
Could it work?: Sure, I guess. Murray has given up eight goals over the past two games and posted a somewhat atrocious .862 save percentage in Nashville. Fleury — the good version of Fleury, to be clear — could do better, but the Penguins will also need to get much better play out of their defense and score more than a goal a game to win regardless of who is in net.
Will it happen?: Haha. No.
The only greater bromance in the world today than Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin is Mike Sullivan’s love for and commitment to Matt Murray.
Tip 2: Remind Crosby and Malkin that their legacies are on the line
Whose advice is this? ESPN’s. (Here is the link to the article, but please don’t click it. Please. Do not. It’s so bad there was a comparison to Malkin and LeBron James. Life is too short to read these kind of things.)
What’s the logic? Crosby and Malkin have won essentially every possible trophy and award available to a hockey player, many of them multiple times — all before turning 30. But they need to know that if they fail to win their third Stanley Cup this year, this one guy thinks they may actually be bad at hockey.
Could it work? No. Telling them there is a take this bad in the universe could result in an angry Malkin taking things into his own hands.
Will it happen?: No. Pittsburgh needs Malkin on the ice, not in a holding cell.
Tip 3: Bench [underperforming defenseman]
Olli MaattaKim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Whose advice is this?: Everyone’s. But we’ll give the credit to The Incline‘s very own Rich Miller.
What’s the logic? As mediocre as Murray was in Nashville, he didn’t exactly get a lot of help from his defense, specifically [underperforming defenseman]. Get him out of the lineup and the Penguins will instantly improve.
Could it work? Yes. But who is the underperformingest of underperfoming defenseman right now? Hainsey is struggling. Olli Maatta continues to look like a newborn and very confused deer on ice at least five times a game. Even Ian Cole didn’t play well in Game 4. Really, only Kris Letang has been mistake-free. So who do you bench?
Will it happen: Let’s go with … yes. Game 5 will give us Chad Ruhwedel in the place of [underperforming defenseman].
Tip 4: Get Phil Kessel scoring again
Whose advice is this?: Everyone’s.
What’s the logic?: The Penguins need to score more and Phil Kessel is a goal scorer who hasn’t had a goal in six games (and only has a single assist through four games of the Cup Final). There is a possible correlation between the two.
Could it work?: Indeed. Phil Kessel scoring a lot goals would be very helpful to the Penguins’ cause. Apologies if this analysis is too “inside hockey” for you, the layperson.
Will it happen?: What are hot dogs made out of? This and whether Phil Kessel will start scoring again are two of life’s great mysteries.
Tip 5: Go more to the right
Mayor Bill PedutoJasmine Goldband / The Incline
Whose advice is this?: Facebook’s.
What’s the logic?: Mayor Peduto defended Pittsburgh from President Trump’s characterization of the city … and the Penguins have not won a game since. Hard to find the flaw in that argument.
Could it work?: I don’t know. Adopting failed right-wing policies? Phil Kessel is a right wing and until he starts scoring again, it’s a risk to run the offense through him.
Will it happen?: Check your uncle’s Facebook page to find out.
Tip 6: Give the Penguins a new look by replacing Jeff Jimerson
Whose advice is this?: Blame Dan Levy, sports editor of The Incline.
What’s the logic?: Jimerson is a bad singer (again, blame Dan Levy c/o The Incline, Pittsburgh, Pa.), and Pittsburgh has the performing talent to upstage the country garbage Nashville has been rolling out — while perhaps also giving the home crowd a shot in the arm to root the team on to victory.
Could it work?: Unlikely. The Penguins are 2-0 with Jimerson at the mic so far in the series. At the very least, I know that Matt Murray shouldn’t be allowed to sing the Anthem. He’s not a pure winner like Jimerson.
Will it happen?: No. And if the Penguins ever replace Jimerson, according to sports law they must have the National Anthem sung by That Guy From Train Who Is Always Singing The National Anthem At Random Sports Events.
Tip 7: Get the entire Predators organization sent to jail for creating fraudulent crowd noise
Whose advice is this?: Dan Kingerski of 93.7 The Fan.
In fairness, he didn’t say the Predators should be sent to jail. But I think we can all agree that it’s generally a good idea to jail any adult who identifies as a predator.
What’s the logic?: Mr. Kingerski can measure sound on his iPhone or something and the sound it measured at Bridgestone Arena seemed like a lot of sound. I guess?
Could it work?: If a Nashville fan can be charged for throwing a fish on the ice in Pittsburgh, surely the local DA can lock the Predators up for Game 5 for violating noise ordinances. Let’s make this happen.
Will it happen?: No. And a little louder for those in the back: NO.
Tip 8: Play Kris Letang
Whose advice is this?: TSN’s Darren Dreger reported this week that Letang could return from neck surgery by the end of the series.
What’s the logic?:
Could it work?:
Refer to the tweet above by one of the finest sports journalists working today.
Will it happen?:
Tip 9: Get luck on the Penguins’ side
Whose advice is this?: Mine. Just now.
What’s the logic?: Hockey played between two relatively even-matched teams has a lot more to do with luck and which way the puck bounces than most fans care to admit. A rolling puck, a stick breaking, a shot banking off a skate in traffic in or out of the net sometimes is what determines who lifts the Cup and who happens to be FAILURES whose LEGACIES are in SHAMBLES.
Could it work?: If the puck luck starts going the Penguins’ way again, yes, they will win the Stanley Cup. Hooray!
Will it happen?: It’s 50-50. Wait. No. I’m feeling confident. It’s 52-48.