There is a new narrative floating around and its focusing on the Pittsburgh Penguins goaltending. The conversation is eerily reminiscent of the days when Matt Murray was battling for the starting position against Marc-Andre Fleury. These days, fans are quick to dismiss Murray’s talents and wail for Tristan Jarry to take his place between the pipes.
Pittsburgh Penguins Goaltending is Fine
Matt Murray’s Not-So-Hot Start
It seems like it happens every year. Murray gets injured or has a bad spell of games and there are people running around calling for his head on a platter. The cries of “they should have kept Fleury!” can be heard around every corner. It gets exhausting.
No, Murray is not an impenetrable brick wall in front of the Pens net 82 games a year. He is, however, a netminder that has posted three seasons with an even-strength save percentage of .930 or better in his last four full seasons in Pittsburgh.
His career power-play save percentage averages out to .905. When it comes to the playoffs, Murray’s running with an average save percentage of .921. There’s no doubting his talent and writing him off so quickly is asinine. But Murray is human. You can’t ignore the bad games and the fact that he can be injury-prone.
Paging Tristan Jarry
Jarry is shining this season. What in the world of sticks and pucks is wrong with that? Who wants a backup goalie that can’t back anything up? Jarry’s statistics tell a much prettier story than Murry’s at the moment. However, take into consideration that he’s only started half as many contests.
That’s not to disregard his achievement of posting a .943 save percentage. Jarry’s last two appearances between the pipes ended with shutouts. He has been dynamite for the Penguins during Murray’s off-kilter moments. Which is why there is so much anti-Murray conversation going on.
Again, asinine. Yes, Jarry is playing phenomenal. He also has significantly less NHL experience than Murray. He hasn’t been in the playoff scenarios that a proven netminder has. Jarry hasn’t been broken down and dissected in locker rooms the way Murray has. When all of that comes full circle, he could look like a totally different player.
Stop Calling it a Goalie Controversy
Here’s a thought. Instead of booting Murray out of the city and attaching Jarry to the net as a permanent fixture, settle somewhere in the middle. A tandem, if you will. Remember that scenario? It could work here.
Stop trying to make it one or the other. The seasons are long. The travel is gruelling and the back-to-back games take their own toll on a goalie. Divide the workload. The Penguins have one proven NHL level netminder. They also have one potential future goaltender, readily available to take the net when the former is putting on an underwhelming performance.
Murray will bounce back. There’s no chance that come next year Murray isn’t sporting black and gold. First of all, he’s not even close to washed up. Second, Jarry’s not even close to taking over the pipes. He does deserve a fair share of starts after showing up for the team the way he has.
The best thing the Penguins can do right now is ride the wave. When Murray is ready, play him. When he’s not, take comfort in the fact that Jarry can handle the workload. There is nothing controversial about the Pittsburgh Penguins’ goaltending situation.