The best attribute that Matt Murray has shown over the years is that he is a clutch goalie who peaks late in tournaments when the games mean the most and victory is near. Murray’s combined stats in the Eastern Conference and Stanley Cup Finals in 2016 and 2017 are 15 wins to just seven losses, with a GAA under 2 and save percentage in the .925% range to go along with three shutouts.
Murray is back in that form again for Team Canada at the 2019 IIHF World Championships, stopping 40 of 41 shots on Saturday in a 5-1 semifinal win over the Czech Republic to help push Canada to the gold medal game. Murray was awarded player of the game for his efforts, which came on his 25th birthday.
Murray has been on fire all week; he recorded a shutout on Tuesday where he stopped all 28 shots he saw in Canada’s 3-0 in the preliminary round against rival Team USA in what always is an important and high-stakes matchup. Murray followed that up with a 22/24 effort in Canada’s 3-2 OT win over Switzerland in the quarterfinals.
Add that to yesterday’s performance and he has only given up three goals in the last three games, the most important games, and stopped 90/93 shots (.968 save%) along the way. That’s pretty reminiscent of his performance in Games 5 and 6 of the 2017 Stanley Cup Finals against Nashville where he notched two shutouts as the Penguins captured the Cup.
The job isn’t done, Murray and Canada face off today against Team Finland. The Finns knocked off arguably the more talented Team Russia 1-0 in the other semifinal and are a very cohesive group looking to finish the job themselves.
At this point though, we’ll see what Murray has for the winner take all game. Based on the way Murray plays when the stakes are the highest, Canada has to be primed to be in a great position with a lot of confidence in their goaltender right now.
Other Penguin player updates
- Teddy Blueger ended up with one goal and three assists for Latvia, who failed to get out of the preliminary round but still had a decent 3-4 record.
- Dominik Simon and the Czechs had a great run but fell to Canada in the semis, but Simon had a great Worlds scoring 12 points (four goals and eight assists) in nine games so far.
- Simon’s opponent in the bronze medal game will have him play another NHL teammate in Evgeni Malkin with his Russian squad. Malkin has six points (one goal and five assists) to date in this tournament.
- Patric Hornqvist and the Swedes bowed out in the quarterfinals against the Finns. Hornqvist ended up with a strong tournament of his own with seven goals and three assists in eight total games for a solid finish to his 2018-19 season.
- Marcus Pettersson ended up with one assist in the eight games Sweden played.
- Jared McCann has two goals and two assists in nine games for the Canadians as he looks to win a World Championship today as well.
- Overall, Murray has a 5-1 record with a 1.82 GAA and .934 save% this tournament, and he’s been rested for Canada’s two easiest games so he could have padded his stats even further against weaker competition.
That said, Murray’s strong performance lately has boosted Canada to the gold medal game and a win today will give him a second gem in the “Triple Crown” (Stanley Cup, World Championship, Olympic Gold medal). Based on how Murray’s played here, he looks to be in-line to be Canada’s starter for the 2022 Olympics, assuming NHL players are allowed to play there. Given the strength of Canada if NHL players are there, that just might happen to decorate the youngster even further. But, first things first, he has one more game to get through and one more to win.