ON PENGUINS 5-2 LOSS TO BLUES
The Penguins played well enough to earn their first three game winning streak in over 10 weeks. They outshot St. Louis 38-25 in the game, including 30-20 5 v 5 and had 53 shot attempts to the Blues 30 at even strength. They just didn’t finish minus enough chances (story of the Penguins season) nor get the goaltending.
Pittsburgh was 0-3 on the power play and are winless in their last eight games when they don’t score a power play goal.
Most of the talk out of this one, though, is going to be on the goaltending.
The Penguins made an interesting decision coming into the back-to-back situations. They opted to start Marc Andre Fleury vs Carolina in the game where the percentages were much higher for a Penguin win. Starting Jeff Zatkoff tonight in the tougher matchup and the second of back-to-backs the Penguins were pretty much conceding.
The game getting away from the Penguins in the third period because Zatkoff couldn’t come up with timely saves was far from a surprise.
Pittsburgh is now 2-7 in the second game of back-to-backs.
Despite the numbers, six quality starts on the year, Zatkoff is a problem for the Penguins. Pittsburgh has won just three of his 10 starts and there’s nothing about him that is NHL caliber. Matt Murray the organizations No. 1 prospect continues to prove he’s too good for the AHL. At 21 years old, though, the Penguin brass remain strong believers that Murray playing every night is most important for him.
Is the Penguins position in the standings going to change that thinking and should it?
It has to be a serious discussion coming out of the All-Star break next week.
The Penguins have seven back-to-back situations remaining this season, including this week (Jan 23-24). With Fleury’s workload somewhat down at this point of the season due to the concussion he suffered, it’s not outrageous to say he goes on to start 31 of the remaining 37 games. He’d still be at 63 games, right around his normal mark (Averaged 64 starts last two seasons).
That said there would be obvious concern of wearing Fleury down going into the post-season but with points being so important the rest of the way, the Penguins are going to have little choice but to start Fleury in at least 80% of the games from here on out.
Bringing Murray up changes that.
Fleury 24 starts, Murray 13 starts the rest of the way sounds like a win-win for everyone involved. That said the guess here is Zatkoff gets two more starts before the Penguins would strongly consider a change at the backup goaltending position.