Whether it 5-0, 4-3, or 5-4 in overtime, the only result that mattered Saturday night was the loss that made tonight's Game Six a must-win for the Penguins.
Does it really matter how the loss occurred? The score? No.
The only thing that matters—seeing how it happened last year—is that the Red Wings can again win the Stanley Cup on the Pittsburgh's home ice.
Just as lopsided as the score was in Game Five, there is another five that is important to this conversation—the five reasons the Penguins will win game Six tonight.
5. Marc-Andre Fleury can't possibly play any worse.
I'm not blaming the Penguins netminder for the Red Wings' onslaught Saturday night, but in order for the Penguins to win, they need a superstar effort from their above-average goalie. Had it not been for the numerous power plays the Wings produced on, the mere idea that Fleury would have been pulled would have been as obsolete as the game plan Michel Therrien once inserted.
4. The Mellon Arena crowd will be as loud as it has ever been tonight.
Games Three and Four produced deafening noise—however, they may need to open the roof at the old Igloo tonight for what is about to occur. Not only does home ice include final line changes and favorable bounces, it also creates an advantage like no other—an extra man. Or in the Penguins case, 17,132 of them.
3. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Jordan Staal.
Nothing else needs to be said about those three. If they show up and play at the top of their game, the Pens may reverse the fortunes of Game Five and produce their own lopsided win.
2. The Penguins will need to win two games in a row to win their third Stanley Cup.
So far this postseason, the Pens have accomplished a winning streak of two or more games on four occasions. Games One and Two in the Philadelphia series. Games Three, Four, and Five in the Washington series. All four games of the Carolina series. And games Three and Four of these very Finals.
It has happened before—and will need to happen again if the Penguins are to win the Stanley Cup.
1. Mario Lemieux
As we head in to game six, while piggy-backing off of point number two and winning back-to-back games, the sole reason the Pens will force a Game Seven is Game (6) and back-to-back (6)(6). Mario Lemieux, for all his dedication and passion for hockey in Pittsburgh will be in the minds of all the players on the ice for the Penguins tonight. He is their owner, for many their role-model, and for one, a landlord.
You can all but bet your final dollar that Lemieux had a thing or two to say to the team following the embarrassment of game Five. It wasn't the fact that the Penguins lost 5-0—it was the immature and selfless actions the team showed in defeat. If there was one person who defines sportsmanship and leadership, it's Lemieux.
The stigma the Penguins will carry if they were to produce a performance such as that in game five again is unimaginable. That is why it won't happen. The players owe it to their boss to play better.
Lose like a man, win like a champion. The Penguins will do one of the two tonight. The money here says Game Seven in Detroit will be the best hockey game the NHL has seen since Game Five's triple overtime affair last year.
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