Matt Murray’s durability is starting to get questioned, at least when it comes to National Pundits.
Matt Larkin of the Hockey News wrote a piece on Tuesday saying Murray’s health has become a long-term concern and even suggests that Tristan Jarry could come in and run with an opportunity to spark a goaltending controversy.
[Including the latest one sustained Monday night, that’s five injuries for Murray in the past 19 months. Three of them are serious, assuming the latest one has a long-term diagnosis, which appears to be the case given how much trouble Murray had leaving the ice. Even if Murray has the world’s worst luck, it doesn’t change the fact these things keep happening to him. He’s been open about his struggles to beef up his 6-foot-4, 178-pound frame, and it’s time to ask whether that lack of body mass has made him brittle. There’s no doubting his talent – he has a .920 regular season save percentage and .928 playoff SP since debuting in 2015-16 – but I wouldn’t fault GM Jim Rutherford for worrying about his star stopper’s future. Which is why Tristan Jarry has a bigger opportunity in front of him than it may seem. Jarry is no run-of-the-mill backup. He’s long been one of the franchise’s better prospects. He backstopped the Edmonton Oil Kings to the Memorial Cup in 2014 and was outstanding for AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in 2016-17 with a starter’s workload of 45 games, compiling a 2.15 goals-against average and .925 SP. So the Penguins weren’t just blowing smoke post-game when they voiced their confidence in Jarry as a stopgap. He has some legitimate pedigree. It’s fair to wonder what happens if Jarry goes on a run. Murray has a disappointing .906 SP this season, his first as an unquestioned starter after Fleury got claimed in the expansion draft, and the Penguins have labored to a 13-10-3 record, mediocre by reigning champion standards, clinging to a one-point lead for the final Eastern Conference wildcard spot. What if Murray misses 10 or more games and Jarry helps the Penguins catch fire during that stretch? Might it spark a goaltending controversy? It’s not like the Pens have committed to an enormous contract extension yet paying Murray through his UFA years. He’s playing through a bridge contract right now with a $3.75-million AAV through the 2019-20 season. It’s not “you have to play me no matter what” money.]
Regarding Murray’s injury history, he’s had the type of injuries that are more high impact/bad luck injuries than anything else.
The concussion on the last regular season game of the 2015-2016 season was bad luck after getting ran into as was what happened Monday and the broken bone in his hand during the World Cup was also just bad luck.
The hamstring tear in warmups of Game 1 vs the Blue Jackets (that actually happened on a Taylor Hall breakaway save late in the regular season) is the type of injury, hamstring/groin area that if it were to keep happening on a yearly basis, miss a few weeks here and there, then the I think the Penguins will have some legitimate concerns about Murray’s durability, but right now the concussion, broken hand, and now the knee sprain are just bad luck injuries a goalie just can’t do anything about.
And at the end of the day, Jarry can go 10-0 without Murray and internally the Penguins will have no goaltender controversy. That thought is a bit ridiculous.
The Penguins believe Jarry has the pedigree to become a very good No. 2 goaltender in this league, but the organization doesn’t see him anywhere near Murray’s level when it comes to how each was viewed during their development once they were summoned to the NHL and obviously they don’t view Jarry near Murray’s level now, regardless of how this little stretch goes for him.Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"