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Penguins strict goaltender rotation ending as Matt Murray gets second straight start

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Is this meaningful? Or not? Depends what you want to see

NHL: Ottawa Senators at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Penguins have faithfully rotated their goalies every other game for a month now for the past 10 games. The last goalie to start two games in a row was Matt Murray going February 2nd against Washington, and when he got that win he played the following game Feb. 6th against Tampa. After helping to end the Pens’ six game losing streak on Tuesday against Ottawa, Murray’s getting the opportunity to start two in a row again tonight.

Overall, since the start of the calendar year 2020, both Murray and Tristan Jarry have incredibly similar stats:

At 5-on-5 play, they’re also both almost identical:

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, but the goalie decisions are always under a microscope by fans. Is this a sign that the Pens want Murray to take the ball and run with it? Or is this, as our buddy Brian Metzer points out, simply a way to switch the timing of the rotation so that Tristan Jarry can play the Capitals on Saturday afternoon? Jarry has yet to play Washington, and seeing how he fares against them could be useful as Pittsburgh/Washington is a high-probability matchup at some point in the playoffs, possibly even the first round.

If that was the case though, why not start Jarry tonight against Buffalo and then have him play a second game on Saturday against Washington? So that probably could slice and dice to fit any perspective you wish to see out of it. Either way, after tonight the next games are in a back-to-back situation on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, so it figures both will get a chance at some point.

So on Monday, we’re likely living in a world where Matt Murray has started three of the last four games (Tues vs. OTT, Thurs. vs BUF, one weekend game). Just something to consider.

Who and when the Pens choose a goalie for the stretch run and/or playoffs will be an interesting decision. Is the time right to break it up now? As seen in the stats above, it’s not like either goalie is playing completely lights out right now (though their defense hasn’t much helped the cause as of late). Playing Murray again tonight is an interesting twist to break up the rotation.

But that month-long rotation will be broken tonight as Matt Murray gets another go. Just how meaningful that is (or, isn’t) can’t really be said at this point. How Murray performs with this chance will have a lot to do with the equation too. Are we starting to see him get the proverbial reins for a playoff run? This could well be the first peak at the coaching staff wanting him to step up and take it.

Poll

Scale of 1-5, how much do YOU think it means in the big picture that Matt Murray is starting two games in a row?

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    1 - this next to nothing for long term plans
    (102 votes)
  • 30%
    2 - maybe a little, but only if he really steps up
    (221 votes)
  • 24%
    3 - could be something to this, could be other reasons
    (177 votes)
  • 20%
    4 - a pretty clear indication of playoff plans/hopes
    (148 votes)
  • 10%
    5 - Red alert! This is Sully’s move towards Murray
    (72 votes)
720 votes total Vote Now