It’s not exactly a goaltending controversy, but the Pittsburgh Penguins have a decision to make going forward.
Marc-Andre Fleury, who started 58 games during the regular season, has been cleared to return to action after suffering a concussion in late-March, but youngster Matt Murray is having the best post-season of any Penguin. And after an other-worldly Game 3 performance by Murray, Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan has to choose which netminder to go with for Game 4 and beyond.
The obvious answer is that Sullivan should ride the hot hand, Murray, and throw the 21-year-old back in goal until a switch is absolutely necessary. Murray has a 5-1 record, 1.79 goals-against average and an impressive .944 save percentage. The only game Murray has lost all post-season came in overtime thanks to a T.J. Oshie wraparound that narrowly crossed the goal line in Game 1 against the Capitals. Though you could argue that contest should have never gotten to overtime, Murray was only narrowly out-duelled by potential Vezina Trophy-winner Braden Holtby.
But to suggest there’s no reason for Sullivan to have any doubt about Murray would be to overlook entirely that Fleury is coming off of arguably the best regular season of his career. Of the 23 goaltenders who played at least 2,000 minutes at 5-on-5, Fleury ranked sixth with a .933 SP, and his 2.29 GAA and .921 SP at all strengths were the best marks of his career. There’s also the fact that Fleury helped the Penguins to a Stanley Cup final in 2008 and was in goal when Pittsburgh won the whole thing in 2009. Experience, whether you believe in its impact or not, is a factor. So who does Sullivan go with in Game 4? Read more