The Pittsburgh Penguins host the Washington Capitals in Game 6 of their Stanley Cup Playoff series Tuesday at Consol Energy Center.
After the Penguins loss in Game 5 to the Washington Capitals, there has been speculation whether coach Mike Sullivan would make a change in net. Rookie goalie Matt Murray allowed 3 goals in Saturday’s loss, which sent the series to a Game 6. Marc-Andre Fleury has been the Penguins backup for much of this series after sitting with concussion –like symptoms since the end of March.
Sullivan announced Monday that Murray will remain in net for Tuesday’s Game 6. There are some fans and media members who have been calling for the team to go back to a now healthy Fleury. The people in the Fleury camp do have a legit grip; he is a proven, Stanley Cup winning goalie who has performed great this season and in past playoffs.
The Penguins were faced with a similar goalie debate in the 1996 playoffs. Starting goalie Tom Barrasso went down with back spasm in the middle of Game 4 in their first round series with the Capitals. Backup Ken Wregget was thrust into action after the injury and the Penguin did not skip a beat with the veteran in net. Wregget went 7-2 with Barrasso out, finishing off the first round series and remained the starter for the quarterfinals vs the New York Rangers, losing only one game in the series.
His second postseason loss came in Game 1 of the conference finals against the Florida Panthers, a 5-1 defeat. With Barrasso now healthy, the Penguins coach at the time Eddie Johnston benched Wregget for the remainder of the series. Though Barrasso won his first start back in Game 2, they would go on the lose the series in seven games.
More from Pittsburgh Penguins
- Pittsburgh Penguins: A Look Back at 2019
- Penguins Will Continue to Persevere Despite Injuries
- Penguins: Alex Galchenyuk May Finally Start Meeting Expectations
- Penguins’ Three Keys to Help End Islanders’ Point Streak
- Penguins: Without Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin Will Be an MVP Candidate
What is different about this goalie situation is Murray has yet to play his way out of the starting spot. Of the three goals he gave up Saturday night, you can only put one of those on the rookie. Stopping a Alexander Ovechkin slap shot is tough even for a veteran like Fleury. The third goal was on Brian Dumoulin whose attempted pass to center ice went right to Justin Williams, sealing the win for the Capitals.
Even if Fleury was named the starter for Game 6, you would have to expect him to be rusty. He hasn’t played since the end of March and starting him against the presidents’ trophy winners off a long delay could be disastrous for the Penguins.
Sticking with Murray for Game 6 is the smart, safe choice for the Penguins. Unless he is run out of Consol by the Capitals, Murray should be the starter again if this series reaches a Game 7.