Who Should Start Game 4? Sullivan tasked with no wrong decision

Game 4: Murray or Fleury?

It was bound to happen that once Matt Murray was deemed healthy enough to play, that the first slip up from Marc Andre Fleury would lead to a controversy in goal.

The Penguins now have one as they enter Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final down two games to one.

Mike Sullivan left the door open for a change following Game 3 in saying he had to sleep on it.

The facts are Sullivan believes Matt Murray is a better goaltender than Marc Andre Fleury and that’s been clear since Murray evolved on the scene last spring. The slightest opportunity to turn to Murray, Sullivan was always going to strongly consider going back to Murray.

For Sullivan, I don’t think there’s a wrong decision on whether he goes with Fleury or Murray for Game 4.

The popular decision is to stick with Fleury and if Sullivan cares about his sky high approval rating (he doesn’t care), then you stick with Fleury on a very short leash.

The organization and players have been driven by the potential of a storybook ending here that’s played out for Fleury and if Sullivan makes the decision based on majority support, there will be a push to stick with Fleury just because of how loved he is from so many.

From an on-ice perspective, one thing Fleury has going for him is he’s shown the ability to bounce back this post-season from poor/average starts that has to be taken into consideration.

Games 3 and 4 in Round 1 he allowed 9 goals, comes back in Game 5 with a 49 save performance. Game 5 and 6 in Round 2 Fleury allowed 9 goals and looked to be finally reverting back into normal Marc Andre Fleury. Fleury, though, bounces back in Game 7 with a shutout.

What Sullivan’s not going to do is make the decision for Game 4 on what’s fair. That’s not how he operates.

Putting Fleury on the bench when he has 2 shutouts in his last four games might not be fair but what the coaches also have to look at is that Fleury’s 2-4 in his last six games with a .902 save percentage.

This team is banged up, fatigued and trending down at this moment.

Benching Fleury would not make him the scapegoat.

It would just be part of the process of the coaches going back to their No. 1 goaltender. Let’s not forget, Matt Murray is the No. 1 goaltender here.

He led the Penguins to a Stanley Cup last season and outplayed Marc Andre Fleury by a large stretch during the regular season to earn the right to be the guy.

What this decision comes down to for Sullivan is whether he wants to risk going down without turning to his No. 1 goaltender?

Difficult decision for Penguin coaches today and there’s no wrong decision here even if going in one particular direction back fires tomorrow night.

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About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com