There seems to be an ever-growing panic in Penguins FanLand that the Penguins made the wrong decision getting rid of Marc-Andre Fleury and keeping the younger alternative in Matt Murray. Should this be something the Penguins should actually be worried about?
The early season statistics have proven to be largely in Fleury’s favor. Fleury missed a large amount of time with another concussion but has started the year in Vegas with an 8-1-1 record where he has a 1.77 GAA and a .943 SV%.
Murray hasn’t fared as well. Murray is 14-11-1 with a 2.94 GAA and a .903 SV%.
These stats, however, are a bit skewed. The Penguins are obviously much more talented than the Vegas Golden Knights but it’s the Golden Knights who lead the Western Conference in their inaugural season. Much of that comes from the lust of the new team and the chip on their shoulder that they all play with after being castoff by their teams.
It is interesting that Mike Sullivan gave Tuesday night’s start against the Philadelphia Flyers to Tristan Jarry. Sullivan is usually someone who gives his starter the start when there isn’t a back-to-back the following day.
“I think it gives Matt an opportunity to spend time with Mike Buckley and just reset his mindset,” Sullivan said, “To get back to some of the basics of his game that we think are important and helps him be at his best. But certainly this is all just part of the process.”
Sullivan sees that Murray is struggling but as a whole, should we actually be worried about Murray?
To answer your question: No.
This is the first time Murray was the guy heading into the season and it’s the first time he’s been assigned a team’s workload. One could say he’s even gotten a rotten deal.
Murray’s first full season was on a team coming off two Stanley Cup titles. That sounds like a dog being thrown a bone but we’ve seen how lethargic this team has looked at times. Forwards not playing defense, struggling stars, you name it, Murray has had to deal with it.
Also, heading into the year, Murray’s backup was Antti Niemi. This was as big of a mess as one could’ve predicted it to be after his stint in Dallas. A few blowouts later, Murray had already been played in multiple games that were designed to give him the night off because Niemi literally couldn’t make a save.
Even in Tuesday’s start, Murray had to relieve Jarry. Jarry had been playing fine but took a stick in the blocker hand and was in obvious discomfort that forced him out of the game. Sullivan wanted to use last night to give Murray a chance to reset himself but Murray came in and made 11 saves in relief to help cap off the 5-1 victory.
Murray will be just fine. There’s a good chance his stats won’t look that phenomenal this year and there is an even better chance they won’t win the Cup or could even miss the playoffs completely. In the long run, Murray will be a-okay. And if for some strange reason Murray never finds his game again, the Penguins have a plethora of goalies to lean on. I don’t believe that’ll be a problem.