For two days, after the Penguins won game four in San Jose, much of the talk centered on two topics, the legacy of Sidney Crosby and who should win the Conn Smythe Trophy.
It has been seven long agonizing years for Crosby since he last lifted Lord Stanley's Cup in Detroit on June 12, 2009.
Crosby battled fatigue in 2010 against Montreal Canadiens, a concussion in 2011 forced him to miss the Tampa Bay Lightning series, had a lack of self control in 2012 versus Philadelphia Flyers, was limited by Zdeno Chara against Boston Bruins in 2013, frustrated against New York Rangers in 2014, struggled again versus the Rangers in 2015, and disappeared for the first three months of the 2015-2016 season until Mike Johnston was replaced by Mike Sullivan.
By the time Johnston was fired, Crosby was a shadow of himself offensively. He was no longer using his speed, lacked confidence in his shot, and wasn’t as engaged most games. There was a fire missing in Crosby and based on what we knew of his character, it just wasn’t right.
We’ll never know why Crosby wasn’t Crosby but safe to say, Sullivan should get some credit for resurrecting the fire that propelled the star to some of his best two-way hockey of his career.
The amount of adversity Crosby has had to endure over his career since that defining night has undoubtedly affected what he's been able to do as a player. Over the last five playoff seasons, he's scored 19 goals in 51 games. This season he's scored 6 goals in 23 games.
Now, Crosby and his Penguins face more adversity as they have to go back to San Jose. It could be his last shining moment on hockey’s grandest stage, so enjoy what transpired to this point because as great as Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky were on the ice, even they couldn’t defy age as neither won a Cup after their age 26 playoff season.
Crosby turns 29 in August.
Murray 5-0 after a Loss
There isn't much a coach can say after this one, he's going to ride the goaltender who got him this far. After giving up two bad goals in the first period and three in total, it looked like Murray was one bad goal from getting yanked. The opening goal by Brent Burns basically gave the Sharks the momentum needed to win this game.
Burns gets the Sharks off to a quick start in Game 5 pic.twitter.com/rimEQGLPmU— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) June 10, 2016
Coach Sullivan: "I thought our team as a whole was a little bit unsettled in the first part of the game... I like that we battled back."— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) June 10, 2016
Jones Steals Game
While Murray struggled in the first period, Martin Jones stole the game as the Penguins could have easily scored five or six goals against the Sharks. This save on Nick Bonino was unreal and sometimes in hockey, you just have to tap the stick because of what your opponent did and that play basically told the story of this night.
Martin Jones steals away a goal from Nick Bonino pic.twitter.com/DUr6yxAxok— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) June 10, 2016
Jones and Sharks were also saved by a number of lucky bounces as Chris Kunitz squared one up on the post, then seconds later Phil Kessel hit both posts on this shot.
Double post for Kessel pic.twitter.com/0xQIwhhtt0— Marina Molnar (@mkmolnar) June 10, 2016
Dan and Dan Show
Dan O'Rourke and Dan O'Halloran were the referees and though the box score says they awarded five power plays, a little too much was left uncalled for my liking on both sides of the ice. Nothing more egregious than this one by Roman Polak on Brian Dumoulin.
Polak hits Domoulin from behind. No penalty. pic.twitter.com/3aLjizw4IT— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) June 10, 2016
And I think Toronto's media is bad....
Murray's brashness is something I just can't imagine plays well right now with vets on #pens. They've dominated Final. He's lost 2 games.— Rob Rossi (@RobRossi_Trib) June 10, 2016
If Murray's last five rebounds after a loss are any indication, he's not going to be the reason why the team goes to San Jose and leaves without the Stanley Cup. The Penguins have peppered Jones and that puck possession has given them an unreal amount of scoring chances. In game five, Jones stood on his head to save his teammates.
If Murray does his job and the offense repeats their performance like the first five games, Sharks can't possibly expect another spectacular performance as in game five by Jones.