General manager Jim Rutherford and the Penguins have officially activated goaltender Matt Murray from injured reserve and sent backup Tristan Jarry down to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
Murray, after having a pretty poor start to the 2018-19 season, has sat out since Thanksgiving with a nagging lower-body injury that apparently had been bothering him for a while. He was surprisingly put on IR 12 hours after riding pine as the No. 2 guy to Casey DeSmith, who performed well that evening against the Dallas Stars.
Murray has a poor 4-5-1 record in 11 games played with a lowly .877 save percentage and an average of 4.08 goals allowed per game. He received the hook in three (!) of his starts, which highlights just how much he’s been struggling so far this season.
Yesterday in practice, Murray was a full-squad, full-contact participant for the first time in almost a month and was listed as being “really close” to recovery. With his activation this morning, it’s clear his lower-body injury is finally healed (or at least healed enough) and he can rejoin his teammates tonight in Chicago.
That being said, with his blunders in net, I’d be very surprised if Murray gets the nod tonight or named the starting guy going forward, as DeSmith has been exceptional as of late. At this point, with the trust he’s earned and his stellar stats through 20 starts, it’s likely DeSmith’s net to lose. We may see an in-season goalie battle for starting privileges if DeSmith does end up cooling off.
The Penguins are getting well below average goaltending compared to other teams in the NHL, so hopefully Murray’s return stabilizes the issues the team has experienced thus far. Murray and Mike Sullivan mentioned that his lower-body injury was actively affecting his play and that an extended break would do wonders for his performance.
Pittsburgh could really use the consistency, so we’ll just have to see.