PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan)- The Penguins have a great problem on their hands that many teams in the league wish they had. It hasn’t surfaced quite yet because of injury, but Pittsburgh has two above average NHL goalies on their roster in Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray, and must decide which of the two to start on a nightly basis.
ESPN hockey columnist and TSN hockey insider Pierre LeBrun joined “The Fan Morning Show” on Wednesday and said that having both Fleury and Murray is an especially beneficial problem to have this season – more than others.
“This is a good year, by the way, to have two quality netminders,” said LeBrun. “The NHL schedule is very compressed because of the World Cup of Hockey, because of the fact [that] they should have gotten rid of the All-Star Game; they didn’t…There is a lot of ‘three games in four nights’ all year long and because of that, it’s a good year if you’re a team that trusts both your goalies because you’re going to need two goalies to get through the year. So, that’s the silver lining I think for the Penguins until they decide what to do.”
LeBrun believes that with the expansion draft taking place next season for the new NHL team in Las Vegas, Fleury will be moved and the Penguins will have Murray take over full-time duties. LeBrun does think, however, that the two can peacefully share playing time until that happens.
“Knowing Marc-Andre Fleury, he’s a terrific team guy,” LeBrun said. “If it does happen eventually that Matt Murray takes over the number one job, or it looks like he is playing a bit more, I think Fleury has the kind of demeanor to handle it like a pro.”
The NHL salary cap has been in place for last 12 years and LeBrun notes that it is finally starting to create parity around the league, and that standings will be tight this season across the league.
“It’s taken a long time for [the salary cap] to have its full, systematic impact,” said LeBrun. “What it’s produced, and I think you’ll see it more than ever this year, are 30 teams that are barely separated. I refer to it as the ‘crushed beer can standings’ but the separation is barely going to be there this year, it’s going to be so close as to who gets in and who’s out and the reasons for it; the talent has been spread around the NHL more than ever. Every team has basically five or six core guys that you really like and then the revolving parts keep changing year in and year out. That’s what the NHL is now, it’s what the league wanted when they went to a salary cap and you’re going to see it this year, its going to be awfully close.”
LeBrun also says that teams around the league have seen how the Penguins had so much success with speed in their game last year and that the league is changing.
“I don’t know necessarily if it was a copycat of the Penguins or it was just starting to happen elsewhere, too,” said LeBrun. “The idea that speed and skill and the transition game is how you win in today’s NHL I think it started to come into the league a few years ago. Whether you like it or not, and I’m not taking a stance on this, the NHL has become less and less of a physical game. There a fewer big, open ice hits, it’s not about the big, big physical guy like it was in the 1990’s.”
You can hear the entire interview with Pierre LeBrun from “The Fan Morning Show” below.