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Insider Only Steigerwald: It’s Murray’s Net until the first sign of trouble


Sullivan Making the Right Call with Goaltending Situation

Murray is the man and it’s a no-brainier.

Which goalie to start in Game 6 shouldn’t be in the discussion and it’s not about who’s the best or who deserves it the most.

Marc Andre Fleury hasn’t played in a game since March 31st.

Maybe you noticed that the playoffs have started since then and the Penguins are 6-2 with Murray in goal.

Is Marc Andre Fleury a better goalie than Matt Murray? Yeah.

Is Marc Andre Fleury, with a six week layoff, as good as Matt Murray, who’s been playing regularly? Probably not.

Everybody knows that the intensity is turned up a notch for the playoffs and it’s not realistic to expect a guy who hasn’t been between the pipes in almost a month and a half to be at anywhere near 100%.

Fleury was where he belonged Saturday night in Washington – on the bench as Murray’s backup.

Mike Sullivan should have Murray on a short leash now that Fleury is available and he should yank him at the first sign that he might be melting down.

Maybe that will be in Game 6 Tuesday night.

If the Penguins are behind in the third period and Murray has given up some softies, that would be the time to call on Fleury. It would give him a warmup for Game 7 ,when he should be the starter.

But, if the Penguins lose 1-0 or 2-1 or even, say, 3-2 in overtime, Murray should get the start in Game 7. If the Penguins win this series, Murrray should start Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final.

And Sullivan can keep him on the same leash until he proves he’s not a better choice than a guy coming in cold.

— Of course, now that the Capitals have gotten back into the series with a win Saturday night, the focus is back on that choker Sidney Crosby.

He hasn’t scored a goal and only has two assists.

As I pointed out in this space last week, with Crosby, probably more than any other player in the league, it’s about so much more than points.

And when it comes to stars in the playoffs, opposing teams are taking the, “He’s not going to be the guy who beats us” approach.

Big time scorers tend to score in bunches. That Ovechkin guy had what you might call a breakout game Saturday night.

He had a stretch of five games against the Flyers and the Penguins when he had no goals and two assists.

Jamie Benn of Dallas had 41 goals in the regular season and four goals and six assists in six games against the Minnesota Wild in the first round.

He has one goal in five games against the St. Louis Blues in Round 2.

John Tavares scored 33 goals in the regular season for the New York Islanders. He had five goals and four assists against the Florida Panthers in the first round.

In Round 2 against the Tampa Bay Lighting he has one goal and one assist in five games and no points in his last four.

Are Benn and Taveres choking?

No. They are big time point producers and they’ll do it again if their teams stay alive long enough in the playoffs.

That’s kind of how it works.

Crosby carries the burden of being designated Best Player in the World and playing on a badly banged up team and with a bad wrist the last two post seasons has caused people to question his ability to perform in big games.

The Rangers series wasn’t that long ago. He was pretty good, if I recall.

There’s at least one more game left in the series with the Capitals and there could be several more games after that

Let’s wait.

–Here’s something else everybody might want to keep in mind as this Penguins-Capitals series moves along : The Capitals are pretty good and they’d also like to win the series.

They did win the President’s Trophy for piling up more points than everybody else in the regular season.

Only one team, Anaheim, was better at killing penalties.

They have been sending out a goalie named Braden Holtby who has a higher save percentage than any goalie who has ever played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Do you think he might have something to do with the Penguins’ offensive stats?

And, if I remember correctly, most of the experts seemed to think that this series would go seven games.

Can you handle it?

Apparently, a lot of people can’t.

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About The Author

John Steigerwald

TIOPS Columnist

John Steigerwald, a life long Pittsburgher, has been covering PITTSBURGH sports since 1977 as a TV anchor/reporter, columnist radio reporter/commentator and talk show host. He is also the author of one of the best selling local books in Pittburgh history, "Just Watch The Game."

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