The departure of Thomas Greiss and a record-breaking AHL season apparently aren’t enough to inspire the Pittsburgh Penguins to tab Matt Murray as Marc-Andre Fleury’s backup, as the team website reports.
Management’s explanation is simple enough: Fleury is the No. 1 guy, so why not allow Murray to get more reps as the top dog in the AHL instead of being glued to the bench?
“He’s not coming in here and beating out Marc-Andre Fleury and taking over this team,” Assistant GM Tom Fitzgerald said. “We love what we have down the line here, and it is down the line. He just turned 21. He needs to play hockey games. You can’t develop if he’s sitting on the bench. That’s just a fact.”
Although he said the Penguins knew he was good, Fitzgerald admitted that they didn’t expect him to generate the kind of 2014-15 campaign he did, winning the AHL’s goalie of the year award while putting up big numbers.
A devil’s advocate take might be that it’s sometimes wise to ride out surprise hot streaks with goalies. The Ottawa Senators rode Andrew Hammond’s out-of-left-field surge to a playoff berth while Devan Dubnyk went from the scrap heap to saving the Minnesota Wild’s season, and neither team anticipated either scenario, right?
Regardless, the good news for the Penguins is that Murray seems fine with both scenarios.
“I think either way could be good for me,” Murray said. “I think playing in the AHL wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, but also practicing with the best players in the world wouldn’t be a bad thing either, so the way I look at it, either way I can take the positives out of it. Wherever I end up, I’m still going to have the same determinations and play the same way each and every day and let things take care of itself.”
Matching a record-breaking season might be asking for too much, but if Murray’s for real, he’ll get his big chance sooner or later.
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Canes’ defenseman Haydn Fleury showed off the offensive side of his game recently at Carolina’s development camp.
Two men have been convicted in a multi-million dollar investment fraud scheme that victimized former NHLers Mike Peca and Bryan Berard among others. (United States Department of Justice)
Christopher Brown, the grandson of the late Wellington and Anne Mara, is trying to make a name for himself at Buffalo Sabres camp. (Buffalo News)
Habs’ defenseman P.K. Subban tries to pinpoint Alex Galchenyuk’s place in pop culture history:
Jared Clinton takes a look at which 10 AHL players could be full-time NHLers in 2015-16. (The Hockey News)
Nikolay Goldobin is hoping to earn a spot in San Jose next season. (CSNBayarea.com)
Soon to leap into pro hockey, Madison Bowey finds the wait ‘thrilling’. (The Washington Post)
The Pittsburgh Penguins have been sluggish enough to earn Bronx cheers at home so far tonight, but Marc-Andre Fleury is a big reason why they’re only down 2-0 to the New York Rangers heading into the third.
That manageable – if still troubling – gap was maintained thanks to Fleury’s sprawling save on Derek Stepan:
Call it half skill and half luck (or something like that), but the Penguins aren’t that far from making a game of this in the final 20 minutes of regulation, and they can thank Fleury for some of that hope.
The Pittsburgh Penguins limped into the playoffs and that combined with the Penguins missing defensemen Christian Ehrhoff, Kris Letang, Derrick Pouliot, and Olli Maatta to a variety of injuries led to them being cast as the underdogs in their first round series against the New York Rangers.
Of course, as long as the Penguins feature Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby, they can’t be ruled out entirely, but they weren’t able to take advantage of the fresh start that the playoffs afforded them.
The Rangers needed just 28 seconds to take a 1-0 lead as Derick Brassard took advantage of a big rebound created by Rick Nash’s shot:
The silver lining when it comes to falling behind early is there is plenty of time to regain the lead. That being said, the Penguins were 10-18-5 in games when they fell behind 1-0 in the regular season.
News and notes from around the crease…
Pens need Fleury to come up big
It’s been a tough go for Marc-Andre Fleury lately — he’s allowed at least four goals in six of his last 10 games, with the Pens going 3-5-2 over that stretch. What’s more, Pittsburgh’s defense has been decimated to where it’ll feature just five — yes, five — healthy skaters tonight when the Islanders come into Consol.
Which puts pressure on Fleury to come up with a clutch performance.
At the very least, Fleury will need to be better against the Isles tonight than in his three previous outings this season (1-1-1, 3.26 GAA, .904 save percentage). But the circumstances don’t bode well. Pittsburgh’s depleted defense has resulted in high shot totals — Fleury’s faced an average of 33.8 in his last five games — and New York is one of the NHL’s most prolific offensive teams, currently sitting fourth in goals per game (including 10 in its last three.)
For the Isles, Jaroslav Halak will get the start in goal.
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