Veteran forward Bill Guerin was a trade-deadline addition to the Pittsburgh Penguins’ mix back in March. Although he’s only worn the penguin on his chest for three months, he still exudes leadership at 38 years old and with a decade and a half of NHL experience under his belt.
That’s why his words yesterday should resonate with his Pens teammates as they get ready to play Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final tomorrow night while facing elimination after dropping Game 5.
“You know, the opportunity is now for a 38-year-old, and it’s now for a 22-year-old, and for a 28-year-old. The opportunity is now, and you have to take it when you’ve got the opportunity because it could be 14 years before you get your next one,” Guerin, who was once a strong candidate to be the Boston Bruins’ captain had he stuck around long enough, told TSN.ca.
Of course, taking advantage of the opportunity isn’t as simple as it sounds when you consider that for the second straight year the super team known as the Detroit Red Wings stand in the way. With Pavel Datsyuk back from injury in time for Game 5, the Wings looked 10 times better than they did earlier in the series.
It’ll be up to the Pens to give an effort like they gave for most of last year’s Game 6 but for a full 60 minutes to make sure the Wings don’t skate around Mellon Arena with the Cup. But all the leadership in the world won’t make Marc-Andre Fleury bounce back after getting pulled in the third period of Game 5. The yanking wasn’t as much a reflection of his play as it was a wake-up call for his teammates, so the Pens are hoping that will make it easier for Fleury to return to form. Potential future Hall-of-Famer Chris Osgood, has gotten the better of Fleury and the Pens when it has mattered most and that Fleury now must meet the challenge to get into the argument about the best few goaltenders in the NHL.
Osgood will be among the candidates for the Conn Smythe Trophy as this series draws to a close. To postpone the end of the final, Fleury will have to play his way into the discussion for the playoff MVP award — or maybe even play beyond his talents. Taking Guerin’s words to heart won’t turn Fleury into a brick wall, but could help him mentally prepare for the biggest game (or games) of his life.