Sport Starting Matt Murray is a risk by Mike Sullivan — but it makes sense

21:03  19 may  2017
21:03  19 may  2017 Source:   Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

'Do what you need to do': Matt Murray ready for Game 7

  'Do what you need to do': Matt Murray ready for Game 7 Matt Murray has been through two Game 7s in his NHL career, and the experiences were quite different. For his first, in the Eastern Conference final last season, Murray stopped 16 of 17 shots as the Penguins beat the Lightning, 2-1, to advance to the Stanley Cup final.His second was two weeks ago against Washington. Murray watched from the bench as Marc-Andre Fleury led the Penguins to a 2-0 victory.Murray will be back in the net for his third career Game 7 Thursday night against Ottawa, as he and the Penguins once again face a do-or-die game with a trip to the Stanley Cup final on the line.

Matt Murray will start in Marc-Andre Fleury’s place in Game 3 against the Senators.

mike sullivan . Sullivan and Murray started this season together in Wilkes-Barre, so the coach has had plenty of chances to see how his young goalie deals with setbacks and success, and maybe that’s played a role in his thinking.

OTTAWA, ON - MAY 17: Marc-Andre Fleury #29 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates to the bench as he talks to his replacement Matt Murray #30 of the Pittsburgh Penguins after giving up four goal during the first period to the Ottawa Senators in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Canadian Tire Centre on May 17, 2017 in Ottawa, Canada. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)© Getty Images OTTAWA, ON - MAY 17: Marc-Andre Fleury #29 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates to the bench as he talks to his replacement Matt Murray #30 of the Pittsburgh Penguins after giving up four goal during the first period to the Ottawa Senators in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Final during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Canadian Tire Centre on May 17, 2017 in Ottawa, Canada. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

It’s weird, really, that we’re sitting here seven hours ahead of a playoff game, wondering whether Penguins coach Mike Sullivan is wise to start his starting goaltender.

It’s also a testament to how good Marc-Andre Fleury had been, in aggregate, during the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs. Save for a couple squishy moments against Columbus — nobody can be 100 percent great, 100 percent of the time — Fleury’s play had been bulletproof until Game 2 against the Senators. The Penguins are still playing because of him.

'Do what you need to do': Matt Murray ready for Game 7

  'Do what you need to do': Matt Murray ready for Game 7 Matt Murray has been through two Game 7s in his NHL career, and the experiences were quite different. For his first, in the Eastern Conference final last season, Murray stopped 16 of 17 shots as the Penguins beat the Lightning, 2-1, to advance to the Stanley Cup final.His second was two weeks ago against Washington. Murray watched from the bench as Marc-Andre Fleury led the Penguins to a 2-0 victory.Murray will be back in the net for his third career Game 7 Thursday night against Ottawa, as he and the Penguins once again face a do-or-die game with a trip to the Stanley Cup final on the line.

There's no timetable for Matt Murray 's (lower body) return, per Penguins coach Mike Sullivan . Murray is clearly making progress though. He's at top of his game," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. That makes sense for the reasons that Sullivan cited.

Murray needed a rest, and they felt like that outweighed the risk of starting Fleury for the first time since March 31. " Matt played a lot of hockey," Sullivan said. Makes sense ; between April 19 and May 20, Murray started 13 games.

Now, they’ll play without him. Matt Murray, dealing with a groin injury since he warmed up for Game 1 of the postseason, is taking Fleury’s place in the wake of his first-period meltdown on Wednesday.

"Marc was a professional like he always is,” Sullivan told reporters after announcing the decision, saying that the decision was good and difficult because the pair is “as capable as they are.” He wouldn’t elaborate much beyond that.

It’s a cold profession, goaltending; Fleury was throwing up a .931 save percentage in the very, very recent past. But if you think the Penguins’ margin for error is nil — and it’s close enough, given the way the series has unfolded — and if you pretend for a second that Marc-Andre Fleury were, in terms of his personality, somebody else, Sullivan’s decision makes sense.

NHL playoffs: Penguins look to take more shots in Game 2 vs. Senators

  NHL playoffs: Penguins look to take more shots in Game 2 vs. Senators Pittsburgh was outshot 35-28 in an overtime loss against Ottawa to start the series.The Pittsburgh Penguins’ plan for Monday's Game 2 against the Ottawa Senators follows the logic of the memorable Wayne Gretzky quote: “You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.

This website is temporarily unavailable, please try again later. Fired Sullivan jail captain charged with theft.

Starting goaltender Matt Murray , Plan A, suffered a lower body injury in pregame warmups, forcing The Pens play poorly in the 1st period (after Matt Murray is injured in warmups) but Fleury makes Penguins coach Mike Sullivan named Matt Murray his Game 1 (7:30 p.m., PPG Paints Arena; TV

Fleury has started the Penguins’ last 15 games. Like Dave Lozo noted at Vice Sports, he hasn’t played that much that consistently since a 23-game stretch in 2011-12. That, coupled with how much work Fleury had to do in the first two rounds, makes him a prime candidate for burn-out — and he certainly looked the part in Game 2.

Sticking with Fleury over Murray — the guy who won a Stanley Cup last June, then outperformed Fleury .923 to .909 during the regular season — would be predicated on two things. One, that he’s the hot hand, isn’t true anymore. He’d been better than he’d ever been before. Unsustainably so, in fact. That ended a couple days ago.

Maybe he needed a day off. Maybe he’d turned back into a pumpkin. This is not the time to figure it out.

The other is that the switch would do real damage to the psyche of the team at large. There’s something to be said for that — Marc-Andre Fleury is a legendarily nice guy. He’s beloved by all. You hear it ad nauseam because it’s true. That only takes you so far, though; Murray doesn’t quite spend his off days torturing his teammates’ pets. He also won them a Cup a year ago. They know that.

Miami 'Joker' lookalike busted for pointing loaded gun at drivers

  Miami 'Joker' lookalike busted for pointing loaded gun at drivers The Joker got busted. But the Caped Crusader didn't take him down, Miami-Dade police did. Lawrence Patrick Sullivan, 29 _ whose green hair and tattooed face bears a striking resemblance to The Joker in the Batman movies _ was stopped by police Tuesday night outside the Hammocks Place Apartments in West Kendall. In his pocket: a loaded Smith & Wesson handgun with sixLawrence Patrick Sullivan, 29 — whose green hair and tattooed face bears a striking resemblance to The Joker in the Batman movies — was stopped by police Tuesday night outside the Hammocks Place Apartments in West Kendall.

Sure, that makes sense . However, if Murray again is flat, coach Mike Sullivan better at least consider turning the remainder of Game 6 over to Marc-Andre Fleury. Penguins goaltender Matt Murray makes a save on the Sharks' Matt Nieto during the second period in Game 5 of the Stanley

You have exceeded the allowed page load frequency. Please wait 60 seconds.

So, maybe Sullivan thinks Fleury is gassed. He’s got reason to believe it. Maybe he thinks the guy that has been demonstrably better than Fleury since the moment he left Wilkes-Barre is healthy enough to do the job. He’s got reason to believe that, too.

Maybe the most positive way to think of it all — the best way, if you’re a Penguins fan — is as Sullivan showing his team that their effort in Game 2 wasn’t good enough. It’s time to get desperate. This was the biggest button available to the coach, and we’re about to find out whether he pushed it at the right time. He’s been right before.

Sean Gentille: sgentille@post-gazette.com, Twitter @seangentille.

Related slideshow: Stanley Cup playoffs (Provided by photo services)

Fleury or Murray? Sullivan keeps quiet on goalie situation .
Mike Sullivan isn't any hurry to announce who will start in goal for the Pittsburgh Penguins in Friday's critical Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals against Ottawa. The defending Stanley Cup champions have relied heavily on Marc-Andre Fleury during their run to the NHL's final four, but he faltered in Game 3, allowing four goals in just over 13 minutes before being pulled for Matt Murray in a 5-1 loss that gave the Senators a 2-1 lead in the series.Sullivan doesn't plan on naming a starter until after his team's skate on Friday morning.''I've said all along, we have two great goalies,'' Sullivan said Thursday.

—   Share news in the SOC. Networks

Topical videos:

This is interesting!