The Pittsburgh Penguins starting goaltender Matt Murray was injured and left Wednesday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes after suffering a ‘lower-body injury’. He finished the first two periods before Marc-Andre Fleury came in to replace him for the third.
This will be the second time that Murray will be forced to miss some time this season. After participating in the
World Cup of Hockey, Murray broke a bone in his hand while playing for Team North America.
While he was out Fleury played in and started every game until Murray was ready to return.
With the young Murray out, this will give Fleury another opportunity to be the go-to guy in the net. It has been a rough start for the 32-year old Fleury, who for the first time in his career has been forced to play as a part of a goaltender rotation.
It isn’t something that every goalie responds well to, and it has shown in his and the team’s numbers to be the case for Fleury.
Last go around, the team put a waiver claim and was rewarded the services of Mike Condon. He was a service for all of a period after Fleury was pulled against the Nashville Predators. Condon was eventually traded to the Ottawa Senators for a draft pick.
What works out good for the Penguins is that they have a week off (January 1-7), and only one set of back-to-back games throughout the entire month, so their use of a backup will be minimal if at all. As far as who will actually back up Fleury, former second round pick Tristan Jarry would be the logical pick.
Despite being recalled for a small stretch of games last year, the 21-year old Jarry has yet to see any NHL regular or post season game action.
After a rough professional debut, Jarry has rebounded nicely, posting a respectable .921 SV% (14th in AHL among qualified goalies) to go along with a 2.15 GAA. He has also played the fifth most minutes among all goalies at that level.
This hasn’t been the easiest of years for Fleury and the numbers have shown. His 3.13 GAA and .908 SV% is among the worst he has posted throughout his career, but yet he has shown flashes of the brilliance he has displayed for years.
An opportunity to play consistently, even at the expense of Murray, is an great opportunity to gain some confidence when they do go back to a rotation.
The Penguins play the Montreal Canadiens on New Year’s Eve before not playing again until January 8 against the Tampa Bay Lightning.