Matt Murray’s Return to the Pittsburgh Penguins Leads to More Questions

Pittsburgh Penguins

Early Wednesday, it was announced that Matt Murray was activated from Injured Reserves for the Pittsburgh Penguins. He was listed as Casey DeSmith’s backup for the game against Chicago. 

Post season record:

Matt Murray’s postseason record has been well documented to this point in his career. After starting only 13 games during the 2015-16 regular season, Murray won the starting job after Marc-Andre Fleury was injured at the end of the regular season. All he did with that opportunity was go 15-6 with a .923 SV% and a 2.08 GAA while guiding the Penguins to the Stanley Cup.  He followed that campaign by going 32-10-4 with a .923 SV% and 2.41 GAA in the 20167-17 regular season. His playoff success continued as he went 7-3 with a .937 SV% and 1.70 GAA and another Stanley Cup. And did I mention that all of this happened while he was still a rookie? 

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Uncontested Starter: 

After all the team and individual success that Murray endured, along with the tough salary cap decisions the team had to make, management decided to make him the uncontested starter by exposing Fleury in the Vegas Golden Knights Expansion Draft. Then the fantastical ride came to a halt. 

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Early in the 2017-18 season, Murray dealt with a concussion and other ailments, before missing some time following the passing of his father in January of 2018. He trudged his way through the regular season to the tune of a 27-16-3 record with a .907 SV% and 2.92 GAA. He finished the playoffs with an un-Murray like 6-6 record with a .908 SV% and 2.43 GAA as the Penguins fell to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals in the 2nd Round. 

Future in Doubt: 

The start of the 2018-19 season has been underwhelming to say the least. In 11 starts, Murray is 4-5-1 with a .877 SV% and 3.92 GAA. He has been forced to yield the net 3 times this year. He has missed the last 11 games with an undisclosed lower body injury. Casey DeSmith has played admirably in his absence. He has the led the Penguins to 4th in the Metropolitan Division and one point shy of a playoff spot. 

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Head Coach Mike Sullivan and GM Jim Rutherford have been more than patient with Murray, as he has dealt with personal issues and injuries. The large contingent of fans that I interact with on Twitter are not nearly as patient as the decision makers. The issue becoming cloudy as  Desmith will be a Free Agent in the coming off-season. With another capable NHL Goalie, in Tristan Jarry, you have to wonder if the team would consider moving Murray while he still has some trade value. These are questions that will be answered in the coming months. 

Stay tuned, as I try to keep you updated on this situation. 

 

stats provided by hockey-reference.com

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Author: Justin Miner