Dunlap: Sullivan Must Play Jarry In Game 4


The easiest coaching decision in Pittsburgh sports history is in front of Mike Sullivan right now.

He can’t mess this up. He best not mess it up and I sure hope he understands the enormity of it.

Is his coaching life here in Pittsburgh depending on it? Well, I wouldn’t go that far. That said, if I’m him I also wouldn’t want to find out what it would be like to get bounced by Montreal while being too stubborn so as to make a goalie switch.

Tristan Jarry must play.

Tristan Jarry must play on Friday in Game 4.

Tristan Jarry must supplant Matt Murray and he must do it now.

How is this even a conversation?

Perhaps the craziest part in all of this is that while it’s important that if Jarry is inserted that he win and force a Game 5, it really might not be the most important part as far as Sullivan is concerned. No, the most important aspect in all of this would be just seeing Jarry out there as it would signify an escape from the normally stubborn ways Sullivan deals with all things involving Murray.

This isn’t a time for favorites and it isn’t a time for regaling us about all Murray has done for the franchise in the past. It also isn’t a time to remind us that the main reason for the Penguins being on the brink of elimination probably don’t rest on the shoulders on Murray as it is.He’s been good, not great. He hasn’t, however, stolen the show outside of a bit in Game 2.

For Sullivan, this is a time to understand that Murray is 2-10 in the last 12 playoff games he’s started and that very iffy game-winner that fluttered in off the stick of Jeff Petry should have been saved. No matter the defensive lapse that occurred prior to the shot, that shot needs to be turned aside.

It’s a time for all of that.

It’s a time for Sullivan --- as he did with Jared McCann in Game 3 --- to tell someone they need to sit down. Now it’s one thing for Sullivan to do it to McCann, who he doesn’t appear to hold anywhere near the allegiance to or affinity for that he does to Murray. In turn, it probably wouldn’t be as difficult for Sullivan to ship Jack Johnson up to the press box for a game either. Johnson and running mate Justin Schultz have been downright catastrophic as of late for this team, so inserting someone else on the blue line could be an easy decision for the staff.

This is Sullivan’s guy.  

This is also a switch that would necessitate Jarry playing in any game for the first time since March but moreover being thrust into the ultra-demanding task of trying to stave off elimination in his very first playoff start.

What a welcome to the Stanley Cup playoffs, huh?

I say, “so what.”

You have to do it. Even if Sullivan truly feels Murray might be a tick better than Jarry at this point, how in the world can you leave the all-star goalie on the bench and continue to ride with the guy who has lost 10 times in the last 12 chances he’s had in the postseason. Just think about the lunacy of all of that. Don’t you, at some point, at least change for change sake --- to maybe get a spark or give the opposition a different look?

Mike Sullivan has a chance for Friday. A chance to operate different and do what’s best for the situation. Mike Sullivan has a very easy choice – and that’s to ride with Tristan Jarry.

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