Evaluating Matt Murray’s Game 1 Performance
Anytime the Penguins lose a playoff game, even if it’s a 1-0 loss where Matt Murray stands on his head, who starts the next game is going to be a storyline through the media.
In Friday’s Game 1 loss, Murray allowed three goals on 20 shots, the third straight game he allowed three goals and second time in three games he had a save percentage of .850 or lower.
“As far as what went on Friday night, we feel as though Matt had a very strong game,” Sullivan said. “The goals that were scored were high-quality chances and very difficult saves, so I don’t think it’s an instance where Matt had a subpar performance.”
When asked about turning to Fleury, Sullivan said “We leave all options on the table [for all positions]”.
Sources close to the situation say Penguin coaches started Murray in Game 1 with all intentions of him being their guy for the series and did not go into the series with the mindset that Murray is on a game-by-game trial basis. The mood in the organization is that it would be a surprise if a change came for Game 2 based on the coaches determining before the series that Murray gives them the best chance to win. This isn’t just some sort of ride the hot goalie situation.
One team source with knowledge of the Penguins thinking even went as far to indicate that if Murray would be pulled for a game, Sullivan would likely go right back to Murray the next game. That’s how much confidence he has in the 21 year old.
Could a few days between games change that thinking? Probably not, but coaches are always known to make rash changes in the post-season. You just never know. At this very moment, though, it would be considered a surprise Sullivan turns to Fleury for Game 2.
Again today, Sullivan cited the Lightning having many high quality chances and goals in Game 1, further indication he didn’t see Murray as the problem last night, same with the players in the room.
The first goal against was a breakaway goal from Alex Killorn and the third one Murray had no chance on a Jonathan Drouin one-timer.
The second goal against is the one that appears up for debate.
Murray left a juicy rebound in front but one goaltending coach I spoke with said with the puck shot low on the ice and Callahan redirecting it in front, it was a tough shot for Murray to corralled.
The real issue on the goal was more of a coverage breakdown from Carl Hagelin
Prior to the shot on goal from Valtteri Filppula, Hagelin never rotated down, creating a numbers advantage for the Lightning.
Filppula not only had the high percentage play of looking for a shot/pass rebound off Murray’s pads that resulted in the goal, he also had a high percentage play he could have taken of making a crossed-ice pass to Ondrej Palat for a prime scoring chance from the lower slot.
Down 3-1, Murray made a big stop on Jonathan Drouin 4:05 into the third period to keep the Penguins in the game.
Last series I was told Penguin coaches felt Murray’s superior rebound control to Fleury’s made the Penguins better equipped with limiting the Capitals second chance opportunities, being Washington’s a team that crashes the net effectively.
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