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Penguins Fate Rests on Matt Murray

The Stanley Cup Final is now a goaltending series. After a bad start, Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne has upped the ante. His diving stop on Jake Guentzel will echo through Predators history, should Nashville hoist the Cup.

The Penguins need a great goaltending performance, moving forward. And it must come from Matt Murray.

It is possible Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan could again swerve the Penguins fanbase, media and opponents by changing his goaltender for Game 5. Sullivan could choose to go back to Marc-Andre Fleury, who was the Penguins Conn Smythe favorite before being benched for Matt Murray in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final. But Sullivan will not make that move. Nope.

Sullivan has tethered the Penguins to the 23-year-old mental bedrock that is Murray. And so the Penguins will rise or fall, based on the performance of Murray.

The Penguins will need Murray to win, perhaps steal, at least one game.

In this playoff run, the damaged Penguins have relied on their goaltender to outplay his counterpart. Fleury needed to outplay Sergei Bobrovsky and Braden Holtby, and did. Murray neutralized Craig Anderson in the Eastern Conference Final, even as Anderson became nearly unbeatable late in the series.

The formula continued through the first four games of the Stanley Cup Final. A shaky (okay, very shaky) Pekka Rinne handed the Penguins a pair of games, Game 1 and 2.

Then, the suddenly spectacular Rinne made saves which will go down in Predators history in both Games 3 and 4, Murray was good if not a little soft in those games. Not coincidentally, the Predators won Games 3 and 4 by comfortable margins.

The Penguins defense, depleted and outmatched, cannot nullify enough scoring chances to insulate Murray, as they did one year ago. The Predators aggressive play and willingness to crash the low offensive zone with superior numbers will produce many offensive chances.

The Penguins appear to be solving parts of the Predators attack. They created offensive chances. When asked about trading chances (*ahem), Sidney Crosby told reporters he felt the Penguins had a few more chances than their opponent.

Related: Pens, Preds Show How a Series Can Change on a Dime

And there it is—goaltending will likely decide this best-of-three series. The Penguins won the Eastern Conference series with a distinct goaltending edge. However, Rinne has upped the ante with MVP worthy performances in Games 3 and 4.

Murray absorbed rebounds well and made strong saves from scrambles in front. But the Predators made the big netminder move laterally on Frederick Gaudreau‘s wrap-around goal and have picked on Murray’s glove side with success.

Gaudreau, who is in the lineup because of the absence of Predators top center Ryan Johansen and doesn’t even have a locker stall, has three goals in six games played. According to the Predators PR, he is the first NHL player since the 1944 (John Harms) to score his first three goals in the Stanley Cup Final.

In fact, the Predators scored eight goals on the Penguins and Murray (and one empty netter) combined in Games 3 and 4. A few of the markers were soft, but that is as much of an indictment on the Penguins play as it is the goaltender. The Predators continued to generate great chances, even with leads.

So, Murray will need to up his game for the Penguins, or there will be another huge party on Broadway in couple weeks. And like so many people who participate in a party on Broadway, the Penguins may hurt for a while afterward.

Odds and Ends

–I’m convinced the Bridgestone Arena is using the PA to amp crowd noise. Facts–the arena plays warm-up and in-game music at 110-112dbs, as measured by my own device. At the height of the crowd mania in Game 4, I believe my radio trained ears heard the pops and cracks of over-modulation. Lastly, the sound levels are never shown in the arena, unlike every other arena in which I’ve covered games.

Why would the “record holder” not show the sound level? The loudest the sound meter (on my iPhone) hit was about 114dbs. 114 is a great number and the crowd is engaged for a full 60 minutes. People don’t leave 10 minutes early to hit the bars or beat traffic.

However, I believe I call “bunk” on the 130dbs claim, at least achieved organically. However, the Predators are welcome to prove it.

–If Phil Kessel doesn’t improve his play, will Penguins fans begin to demand more next season?

–I haven’t bagged Ron Hainsey via Twitter or on the website for good reason; he’s a good defenseman. Hainsey defends his own zone well and has a better breakout pass than Brian Dumoulin. Hainsey’s issues are when confronting the rush in the neutral zone or leaving the comfy confines of the low defensive zone.

–So is Olli Maatta, but I’ll only pick a few fights per day…

Jayden Cole at Blush
24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. Jason

    June 7, 2017 at 2:38 pm

    Lol @ Bridgestone amping crowd noise. So salty in Pitt. Next we’ll be accused of deflating pucks. Radio trained ears…

    • Joseph McHale

      June 7, 2017 at 4:00 pm

      The Salt in this piece is horrible. Grow up and learn to cheer for your team. #GoPreds

      • Dan Kingerski

        June 7, 2017 at 4:08 pm

        You may have missed the part about our staff being professional reporters. We don’t employ fans.

        • Brandon

          June 7, 2017 at 4:26 pm

        • Joseph McHale

          June 7, 2017 at 4:30 pm

          If that is the case, then you should be reporting on facts regarding the noise level in the arena, not your “belief your radio trained ears”.

          Other than the end of your article with unsubstantiated facts about artificial noise… I’d agree with the goalie fight statements you’ve got. Should be a fun three games remaining.

        • Voltron Shakespeare

          June 7, 2017 at 4:38 pm

          The 130 db game was against the Ducks, bud. And your iPhone actually overestimated the db readings compared to what was reported for the games you DID attend. Good work, pro!

  2. Professor Keelnex

    June 7, 2017 at 2:43 pm

    Man you guys are really butt hurt aren’t you…. I’m sure your crowd volume analysis meets all of the scientific standards required to be a sports talk show host. You’re making fools of yourselves in front of the entire sports world. Do yourselves a favor… shut up, quit crying, and try to enjoy the Stanley Cup Finals.

  3. Kate

    June 7, 2017 at 3:11 pm

    Do you hear hear how salty you sound

  4. Jason

    June 7, 2017 at 3:15 pm

    AIR HORNS….YOU SUCK!!! LET’S GO PREDS!

  5. Pingback: Penguins Writer Accuses Predators Of Piping In Fake Crowd Noise « CBS Boston

  6. DC

    June 7, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    Just FYI: the 129.4 dB reading was provided by the sound engineer for ESPN Radio 102.5 The Game, the official radio broadcast of the Predators. This was recorded on properly calibrated equipment used by Sound Engineers in their jobs. Professional equipment, used by professionals to record. This wasn’t taken on an app from a phone that you can make jump 5-10 dB just by screaming near it yourself. But hey, your iPhone is just as highly sophisticated as equipment built for JUST the purpose of recording dB ratings 🙄.

  7. Brandon

    June 7, 2017 at 4:31 pm

    So lets take your claim about the noise being artificial. Wouldn’t noise pumped in by the PA system register on your IPhone’s app? I know you have trained radio ears but is your phone so good it can differentiate between amplified noise and non amplified?

  8. Pens Fan

    June 7, 2017 at 5:55 pm

    Honestly, I’m impressed with the Preds and the game they’ve brought. Solid coaching and phenomenal goaltending. The arena atmosphere, however, comes across as juvenile and cheesy, as if it’s about loud entertainment first, hockey second. I love atmosphere at a solid sports event and was at the Pirates’ wild card game — it was incredible. But it wasn’t overkill. Sometimes even just a wee bit less is more. I’m looking forward to the rest of this matchup apart from the sensory assault. Go Pens.

  9. Pingback: Pittsburgh media: Nashville not a 'hockey town,' Preds using fake crowd noise - Football Fan Report

  10. Chase

    June 7, 2017 at 9:36 pm

    Aside from the hilarious claim that we’re juicing our crowd noise, I find the funniest part of this to be the injury excuse for the Pens. Given, they’re missing Letang and other depth guys..the Preds have been missing 3 of their top 6 forwards the entire series in Johansen, Wilson, and Fiala. One of which owned you in the playoffs two years ago with Columbus in the form of Joey. You don’t get to cry about injuries. Losing Joey is the equivalent of the Pens losing Sid yet here we are 2-2. Can’t wait to see what other excuses you come up with for why we win this series over the next week..

  11. Skywalker

    June 7, 2017 at 11:14 pm

    The salt must be just piling up in Pittsburgh.

  12. Pingback: Pittsburgh Media Making Some Noise Over Predators Resurgence

  13. Brandon

    June 8, 2017 at 12:01 pm

    I call bullshit on everything you are saying. You are just trying to make Nashville look bad. You have no reason to come here and we don’t want you here. If we see you here again we are throwing you out. Fuck you and your precious Shittsburgh.

  14. Pingback: The Pittsburgh Media Is Rather Salty About the Rabid Fan Base in Nashville – SoBros Network

  15. Pingback: Nashville Balloon Artist Made Wearable Pekka Rinne Balloon

  16. Andy Selby

    June 8, 2017 at 1:26 pm

    That is the saddest sore loser gripe I have ever heard. Nashville is a high energy town that loves this team and has more powerful vocalists per capital than any city in the world. Doesn’t shock me at all that we can deafen the ears of whiny babies that think newcomers don’t deserve a moment in the sun. Get over yourself.

  17. Wade

    June 8, 2017 at 6:10 pm

    ROFL….wait…this clown thinks those “sound meters” shown on the jumbotron are actually real meters? Holy cow….

  18. Pingback: Fake noise? Predators president calls Pittsburgh TV reporter a ‘schmuck’ | beautycribtv

  19. Pingback: Pittsburgh media: Nashville not a ‘hockey town,’ Preds using fake crowd noise – CBSSports.com | Quick & Fast Sports News

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