The Penguins play an exhibition game at Philadelphia this afternoon. (Hear all the action on 105.9 the X. I’m on 2-3 p.m., Penguins network pregame 3-4 p.m., puck drops at 4 p.m.!)
Gratuitous plugs and playing the old enemy aside, the game doesn’t mean a thing. As of this writing, there’s no word on Sidney Crosby’s availability. But if he has any slight limitation, he shouldn’t play. Crosby is needed Saturday at 8 p.m., not today.
There’s only one thing the Penguins need to happen today: They need Matt Murray to not suck.
The goaltender has been a constant topic of discussion dating back to the beginning of the regular season almost 10 months ago. Murray hasn’t been terrible, but hasn’t been great. A save percentage under .900 doesn’t lie. Tristan Jarry has played even with him, perhaps better. Jarry had a much better (re-)training camp than Murray, who leaked in seven goals in a scrimmage. Jarry made the NHL’s All-Star event. Murray didn’t.
None of those items mean much individually, but they add up.
If Murray allows a few bad goals today, the pile gets that much bigger.
Murray is a lock to start Saturday’s Game 1 vs. Montreal. How long his leash is, only Coach Mike Sullivan knows. It would help if Murray went into that game with some confidence, and his teammates with some confidence in him.
It’s an odd situation. Since those two Cups in ’16 and ’17, Murray has rarely lived up to that level of play. But how he played then seems to matter more now than his current performance.
I’m rooting for Murray. But I’m rooting for the logo more.
You wonder what’s happened since 2017. If he stumbles badly in these playoffs, we’ll be wondering if Murray was ever that good in the first place.
Via Getty Images