Tristan Jarry wanted the Pittsburgh Penguins net in Game 6. But it’s not that simple, and it’s not so simple to simply assert that Jarry should play in Game 7. Just ask head coach Mike Sullivan.
The “Domingue Dynasty” crumbled on Friday night in Game 6 after goalie Louis Domingue allowed a pair of soft goals to the New York Rangers, including the decider later in the third period. The Penguins had a significant advantage in nearly every facet, except for special teams. The Penguins out-chanced the New York Rangers. They outhit them. And they outscored them at even strength.
What the Penguins didn’t do was prevent a couple of stoppable, long-range goals. Mika Zbinejad got the first softie, and after some scoring changes, official scorers correctly determined that Zbinejad did not deflect the second soft goal and gave Chris Kreider credit.
Domingue should have seen both shots.
The Penguins goalie has given up eight goals over the last two games, and not all have been stellar.
Here’s where Sullivan has a difficult decision. No. 1 goalie Tristan Jarry feels he is ready and wants to play. He badly wants to play. A source told PHN that Jarry wanted to play Game 6 before Sullivan and the team ruled him out.
“We’ve had all kinds of those conversations behind the scenes. And when Tristan is ready to play, and everybody feels comfortable that he’s ready to play, then certainly we’ll put him in the lineup,” Sullivan said Friday morning. “We’ve had all those conversations behind the scenes with our medical staff and our coaching staff. We’re trying to put players in positions to be successful.”
Jarry has not played since likely suffering a broken foot or similar injury against the New York Islanders on April 14. That’s a long layoff without facing live game action. Jarry faced teammates’ shots for the first time since the injury on Friday morning at the morning skate.
He wasn’t necessarily in full game mode.
With another subpar performance on Friday night, Domingue’s GAA is 3.65, and his save percentage is under .900 (.898) in the series.
Since Jarry was a full participant at the morning skate on Friday, expect him to take hard reps in practice on Saturday. The Penguins may have only two reasons to practice on Saturday: the penalty kill and shooting pucks at Jarry.
Before the team shuffles off to New York, the Saturday practice can and should determine who plays on Sunday. It will be a pressure-packed situation Sunday at 7 p.m. Neither Jarry nor Domingue has faced a Game 7, but Jarry was dropped into Game 4 of the best-of-five Qualifying Round series against the Montreal Canadien in the 2020 playoffs. Matt Murray was ineffective, and the Penguins faced elimination.
Jarry was very good, but Carey Price outdueled him in a 2-0 loss.
Jarry was not good in the 2021 NHL playoffs. He posted a meager .888 save percentage in a six-game loss to the New York Islanders. After being defended by GM Ron Hextall and President of Hockey Operations Brian Burke last summer, Jarry has been on a collision course with his chance of redemption all season.
He made the All-Star game after carrying the Penguins in the first half of the season while Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were out with injuries.
Jarry is rusty, and Domingue is leaking.
Not exactly a great choice, but it is Sullivan’s to make.
“(Jarry) looked good to me. I don’t know. I’m not a coach. I’m not making the decision,” defenseman Kris Letang said after Game 6.
The bet here is that pending a hard workout on Saturday, coaches and doctors will usher the goalie out of the room and discuss.
Tristan Jarry plays Game 7, if at all possible.