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Pens will see if Fleury’s ‘OK with the situation’ as deadline draws near

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Matt Murray will make his eighth straight start for the Penguins tonight, relegating Marc-Andre Fleury to the backup gig yet again.

Fleury hasn’t received a start in nearly three weeks. And, with the NHL’s trade deadline just under a month away, Pens GM Jim Rutherford was asked how he’d handle the situation.

His response? Keep checking in with Flower.

“The one thing I’ll have to watch for and keep the lines of communication open with the player is, is he OK with the situation that he’s in?” Rutherford said, per the Tribune-Review. “Going back to last year and to this point in time, he has handled it like a true pro. No issues at all. It may play out that we may be able to go right through having two top goalies on our team.

“We just have to keep an eye on what direction Marc wants to go here in the next few weeks.”

It’s been a difficult year for Fleury. His playing time has been erratic and, as a result, his numbers don’t show well — 3.23 GAA, and .904 save percentage. That said, he has shown stretches befitting a No. 1 netminder, like in December when he went an impressive 7-1-1 with a .924 save percentage.

That stretch, of course, coincided with Murray being shelved with a hand injury. Now that he’s back, Fleury’s on the outside looking in.

Rutherford has a dicey situation on his hands. While he’d no doubt like to keep Fleury in the fold — he’d be good insurance should Murray get hurt in the playoffs, or falter — he also sounds like he wants to do right by the 32-year-old.

Fleury’s not getting any younger, and there are teams out there that are in definite need of goaltending help. But the issues are complex — would any of those teams be willing to take on Fleury’s deal, which pays $5.75 million annually and doesn’t expire until 2019?

If yes, are they willing to make the trade in season — as opposed to this summer?

McKenzie’s trade talk: Penguins shop Fleury, Coyotes have pieces to sell

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Hockey insider Bob McKenzie appeared on NBCSN on Wednesday, dishing on some very interesting subjects. Fans will probably be most interested to hear his takes on the trade market.

In the first video (see above), some fascinating stuff on the Pittsburgh Penguins, Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray.

To start, the not-so-surprising: McKenzie reports that the Penguins are “wide open” to the idea of moving “MAF,” though maybe not as desperate as some might think. Why? He believes that the Penguins won’t get into a situation where they’d lose Murray, even if it means buying out Fleury.

Here’s how a Fleury buyout would shake out, according to Cap Friendly’s buyout calculator:

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A lot to consider there.

Final point on that: McKenzie emphasizes that the Penguins’ top focus is a run at the Stanley Cup; if that means keeping Fleury and then figuring something out this summer, then so be it.

The other especially intriguing video revolves around McKenzie’s breakdown of a “grim situation” for the Arizona Coyotes, which leads him to believe that it’s not a matter of if “but when” the team decides to trade players on expiring contracts. Specifically, McKenzie points to hulking center Martin Hanzal and injured scoring defenseman Michael Stone.

Hanzal, in particular, could conceivably net something nice on the open market.

If you want more from McKenzie, check out his take on the Colorado Avalanche shopping Gabriel Landeskog and Matt Duchene.

Goalie nods: Murray’s back, but Fleury starts versus Caps

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Tasty matchup for tonight’s Rivalry Night game between Pittsburgh and Washington — Marc-Andre Fleury, who’s stopped 128 of his last 136 shots faced (for a .941 save percentage), will go up against Braden Holtby, the NHL’s reigning third star of the week.

Fleury’s start comes with Matt Murray returning to the fold, after missing the last two weeks with a lower-body injury. In a related move, the Pens returned Tristan Jarry to AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Wednesday, after he sat as Fleury’s backup for the last few games.

Fleury has been Pittsburgh’s goalie of record in each of the last five games — all wins — so this is a chance for him to keep the streak alive, and potentially keep his grasp on the No. 1 job as well. Coaches are loathe to mess with a winning recipe.

As for Washington, this will be Holtby’s fifth start in the last nine nights, which is a pretty hefty workload. That said, one of those starts didn’t go the distance — he was hooked in a 6-5 OT comeback win over Toronto on Jan. 3 — and he’s playing some of his best hockey of the year right now, having allowed just one goal over the last three games.

Elsewhere…

Carey Price was busy in Monday’s loss to Washington, facing 39 shots, so Al Montoya gets the nod in Winnipeg. He’ll be up against Connor Hellebuyck, who is making his sixth straight start and appears to have won the No. 1 gig over Michael Hutchinson.

— Coming off a shutout of New Jersey on Monday, Roberto Luongo gets another start for the Panthers. The host Isles are going with Thomas Greiss, who has played well in the wake of the Jaroslav Halak departure. Greiss is 1-0-2 in his last three, with a .958 save percentage.

— No switching things up in Calgary, as Chad Johnson will make his third straight start, despite losing in Winnipeg on Monday. No word yet on who goes for the Sharks, but Martin Jones did play in last night’s 5-3 win over the Oilers.

Goalie nods: Fleury looks to push Pens’ winning streak to five games

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have a luxury they probably won’t be able to afford much longer, but they’ll take it while they can get it.

The Pens are without starting goalie Matt Murray, again, except unlike other teams, they have a backup goalie who could be a starter on many other teams.

Marc-Andre Fleury will make his 25th appearance of the season, as the Penguins try to push their winning streak to five games.

They’ll look to do so in a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Final against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Pittsburgh hasn’t played since they beat Montreal 4-3 in OT on Dec. 31, so it’ll be interesting to see if they come out of the gate rusty or fresh.

As for the Bolts, their 4-2 loss to the Flyers yesterday afternoon was their third straight defeat.

Andrei Vasilevskiy will get the nod for the Bolts.

Elsewhere…

–Zane McIntyre will start for the Bruins, while the ‘Canes have confirmed that they’ll go with Cam Ward.

Michal Neuvirth made a successful return to the Flyers’ lineup yesterday afternoon, so Steve Mason is expected to get the start tonight. Sergei Bobrovsky should be between the pipes for the Blue Jackets.

–The Chicago Blackhawks will start Corey Crawford against the Predators. Nashville has yet to name a starting goaltender for this game.

–The Oilers are looking for their third straight win, and they’ll do so with backup Jonas Gustavsson in goal. The Senators will give Mike Condon a second start in two nights.

Devan Dubnyk will likely be between the pipes for the Minnesota Wild. John Gibson will look to win his fourth straight game for the Ducks. You can watch this game on NBCSN or you can get an online feed by clicking here.

Fleury replaces Murray in Penguins net (Updated)

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The Pittsburgh Penguins have made a change in net for the third period against the Carolina Hurricanes, although it’s not yet known why.

Marc-Andre Fleury replaced Matt Murray in net, despite the fact the Penguins trailed only 2-1 after two periods.

Murray had been busy, making 25 saves on 27 shots, too.

Updated: Per PHT’s Adam Gretz, Mike Sullivan said Murray suffered a lower-body injury, which occurred toward the end of the second period, but the Penguins coach didn’t have any further update tonight.

Fleury stopped all 19 shots he faced in the third period and the Penguins, on goals from Chris Kunitz and Carl Hagelin, came back for the 3-2 victory.