The Penguins will return home having retaken home-ice advantage in the series against the Lightning.
By: Shane Lambert
The talk heading into Game 5 of the 2016 Eastern Conference finals has to do with the Pittsburgh Penguins’ goal-tending situation. With Matt Murray having hit a bad a patch of play, most seem to think that the Pens should be going back to their former No. 1, Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury has missed most of the post-season due to a minor injury. However, he did appear in net in Game 4, replacing Murray, and he made seven saves on seven shots.
When it comes to deciding who to play, coach Mike Sullivan really can’t afford to mess around at this point. After all, the season for Pittsburgh currently hangs in the balance.
The Eastern Conference Finals are tied at 2-2, but the Pens have home-ice advantage. Yet if the Penguins lose Game 5 then they could be out of the post-season very soon. With most of the pundits stating that the Pens should go back to Fleury, I don’t see how Mike Sullivan can go out on a limb here. If he does and he fails then it would ruin what has been a stellar return to head-coaching duties.
Betting odds for Game 5 make the Penguins pretty sharp favorites at -200 (1/2) to win straight-up. Those are good odds for a Pittsburgh win as I think Fleury will play and I think it will re-invigorate the skaters in front of him.
Murray has been important for Pitt’s success so far, but in his last six games he’s below .900 for a save percentage. It’s very draining in hockey to be working hard as a skater and having little confidence in the guy between the pipes to make the saves he needs to make. For whatever the situation was earlier in the playoffs, I actually think that’s the situation with Murray and his teammates both right now and lately.
Game 5 will go on Sunday night at 8pm ET on CBC/NBCSN. My recommendation is to take the Pens to win straight up at -200 (1/2) with 888Sport.