Penguins hope goalie coach change makes difference for Jarry, DeSmith

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One thought as to how the Penguins were going to approach the 2021 offseason was that goaltending was an area they needed to address.

Following a First Round playoff series to forget for Tristan Jarry, there was an expectation that general manager Ron Hextall would seek out a new No. 1 via the trade market or free agency. He did not, and instead the move he hopes will impact the team’s goaltending position positively is replacing Mike Buckley with Andy Chiodo to work with the netminders.

Buckley had been with the Penguins since 2013-14, moving from development coach to goalie coach. Chiodo took on the goalie development coach role in 2018-19 and now has the job of fixing an area that sunk the team this past season.

Jarry finished the regular season with a .923 5-on-5 save percentage, but that number plummeted to .890 during their six-game series defeat to the Islanders.

Hextall said on Thursday that after speaking to people around the organization this move needed to be made.

“When you make decisions like that, a lot of it is what your gut is telling you,” he said. “And, obviously, when it comes to decisions of this magnitude, you talk to all your people. We certainly got opinions from all of our people. In the end, we just felt we needed a change. Obviously, we had Andy sitting right there. With his experience and knowledge of the organization and the goaltenders, he was, in the end, the right guy.”

Fleury option quickly goes away

Even before his trade to Chicago, there was belief that the Penguins might seek out a reunion with Marc-Andre Fleury, who was a likely trade candidate given the Golden Knights’ salary cap situation. Those thoughts were squashed for a moment after the Blackhawks acquired him but quickly reignited when it came out that Fleury was pondering whether he’d play next season.

Fleury choosing to play in Chicago eliminated a potential option and here they are now hoping a change in goalie whisperers will do the trick. As a former goaltender himself, Hextall can relate to the ups and downs that come with the position, which is why he’s confident that a new voice and a fresh slate will help Jarry immensely.

“When you’re a goaltender, and I lived it, there’s disappointments that you have to get over and you have to bounce back from,” Hextall said. “He’s still a young goalie that’s learning and I believe he’s going to learn a lot from last year. I really like what Andy is going to bring to the table here.

“I feel strongly that Tristan is going to bounce back and be a very good goaltender for us throughout the entire year.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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