Matt Murray was the first Penguins goalie off the ice this morning in Pittsburgh. The 21-year-old rookie is expected to start tonight in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final versus the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Murray, of course, has been one of the major stories of these playoffs, going 7-2-0 with a .935 save percentage. While there’s been some debate over whether veteran Marc-Andre Fleury, now healthy, should return to the net, head coach Mike Sullivan obviously likes what he’s got in the youngster.
“I just think Matt has the ability to stay in the moment. You know, he doesn’t get overwhelmed by the circumstance or the drama,” said Sullivan.
“He has the ability to respond the right way to some of the adversities during the course of a game or the course of a number of games for that matter.”
The attitude that Sullivan is describing is one that Murray has worked hard to cultivate. After all, goalies are going to allow bad goals, and they’re going to have bad games. It’s unavoidable. The key is the ability to bounce back and put the past in the past.
“I don’t think a result should impact your confidence,” Murray told the Post-Gazette. “If you have an outstanding game, that doesn’t exactly make you an outstanding goalie. If you have a really bad game, that definitely doesn’t make you a really bad goalie.”
So far this postseason, Murray hasn’t had to shake off a “really bad game.” In nine starts, the most goals he’s allowed is four, and on that one occasion he didn’t allow the fourth until overtime. In five starts, he’s allowed two goals or fewer.
“I’ve watched him both in Wilkes-Barre and here in Pittsburgh,” said Sullivan. “If he thinks he should have had a save or one gets by him, it doesn’t impact the next play or the next save. He responds the right way to those sorts of adversities. And I think that speaks to his maturity. I think it speaks to his character, that he has the ability to respond the right way to those types of circumstances.”