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Murray adding to an impressive resume

The Pittsburgh Penguins don't really have a goalie "controversy" right now, and one thing undeniable is the level of play by Matt Murray.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Penguins aren't a team of many compelling storylines this season. Their roster is pretty stable, the roles they're asking players to play in have been well defined, since it's the same group that won the Stanley Cup.

About the only interesting aspect would be how the Pens and coach Mike Sullivan would deploy their goaltenders.

"We’re fortunate," Sullivan said last week. "We have two really good goaltenders that we know are going to give us a chance to win. We’re going to do our best to keep them both in the mix. We’ll go from there."

That's fairly standard, and to be expected. Marc-Andre Fleury (starter of 58+ games in all of the last 10 seasons, save the lockout year and one season spent partially injured in 2007-08) has been the workhorse. That continued in October, when Murray was injured. Fleury was undeniably the best Pittsburgh player in October, despite not having great individual statistics due to the way the team was playing in front of him.

Another Sullivan quote looms large. "These situations always have a way to work themselves out. Inevitably performance is always the dictator."

It's almost impossible to ignore Murray's performance (from hockey-reference).


Add in his 2016 Stanley Cup playoff run and Murray's career NHL stats (reg season + playoffs) has a line of this:

38 starts, 28-8-1, .930 save %, 1.96 GAA, 27 quality starts (71.0%), 1 really bad start (2.6%)

For reference, here's Fleury since the beginning of 2015-16:

71 games, 70 starts,  41-21-8, .918 save %, 2.42 GAA, 38 quality starts (54.2%), 7 really bad starts (10.0%)

**Quality and "really bad starts" are tracked by hockey-reference and more information can be found there.


Statistics never tell the true story and Fleury has been fairly strong. But his numbers don't hold a candle to what Murray has done and why he's seemingly inched ahead in the battle for playing time now. Murray's started 4 of the last 5 games, and based on recent performance it would be tough to say he doesn't deserve the 5th in 6 games tomorrow night in Washington.

Of course, this competition can and will change on a regular basis and it's not difficult to imagine Fleury starting 4 of the next 5 should he get the chance and then perform really well.

Now that both goalies are healthy, the "competition" for playing time will really begin. With a back-to-back situation on Friday/Saturday of this week, both goalies should get a chance. It will be interesting to see who's tabbed for the Capitals game and the extra start this week. Based on performance alone right now, it's going to be difficult to keep Murray on the bench.