The biggest question for the Pittsburgh Penguins, as they face possible elimination in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final, is who will start in net? Will it be the veteran Marc-Andre Fleury or the rookie Matt Murray?
Head Coach Mike Sullivan said he would reveal the starter on the morning of the game. Until then, all anyone can do is speculate and debate who should be starter for this pivotal game.
played his 100th career postseason game in Game 5. He has the experience and knows the pressure of playing in a potential elimination game. In 98 playoff games started, he is 53-45 with a 2.66 goals against average and a .906 save percentage. He also has eight shutouts in his postseason career. Fleury hasn’t seen much game action since March 31, when he suffered an injury.
Fleury’s first postseason action was in the third period of Game 4. He came in to relieve Murray after the Bolts took a 4-0 lead in to the second intermission. The move was made more to get the Penguins back in the game and they scored three goals in the third, but fell just short. Fleury
made seven saves in the third period, some of which were quality scoring chances by Tampa Bay. Fleury hasn’t even played 80 minutes in these playoffs.
Since Pittsburgh made the comeback and Fleury played fairly well, he got the start in Game 5 on the road in Tampa. The goalie allowed four goals on 25 shots by the Bolts. His teammates didn’t exactly play the best defense in front of him. The Pens blew two separate leads of 2-0 and 3-2. Fleury only had a chance to stop one of those goals, but it was a howitzer up high, short-side and he couldn’t make the save. In one plus game, Fleury has allowed four goals on 32 shots against for a .875 save percentage. He also has a 3.03 goals against average during the time he has been in the net.
is a rookie in his first postseason, and has been able to handle the pressure so far. He is 9-4 with a 2.33 goals against average, a .923 save percentage and one shutout in 13 games played. He doesn’t have the experience of playing in an elimination game like Fleury does because this is the first time in the postseason the Penguins have faced elimination. The goalie’s numbers have come down to earth as he has faced better teams in the playoffs, but he has lead the team to this point in the playoffs.
has only allowed three or more goals six times in his first postseason. Three of those six games have required the overtime session to decide the final score. The young goalie has faced 30 or more shots in six of his 13 postseason starts, including facing 49 shots in Game 3 in round two against the Washington Capitals
. He has kept his team in games, making saves that need to be made, while making the spectacular highlight reel saves. It seems that even if the opposing team doesn’t have a lot of shots, Murray still has to make saves on quality scoring chances.
In three plus games against the Lightning, he has faced 99 shots and has allowed 11 goals. He has a 3.02 goals against average and a .889 save percentage in the series.
Murray took over on March 31 after Fleury got hurt and played well. He was injured late in the regular season and missed the first two games of the first round series against the New York Rangers
. He entered the postseason in Game 3 of the Rangers series and hasn’t looked back.
Mike Sullivan and the Penguins should go back to Murray for Game 6, since he has gotten the team to this point in the postseason.