Dunlap: Matt Murray Isn’t The Problem

PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – I am the rarest of sports consumers here in Pittsburgh — I don’t have “a guy” when it comes to the Penguins’ goaltender situation.

Yeah, it seems like in order to consume the Pittsburgh Penguins, you need to pick a side. You need to be on Team Murray or Team Fleury.

Nothing else will do.

It is an all or nothing proposition.

You can’t root for both.

You can’t want both to do well.

You can’t just root for the logo on the front of the sweater; it’s all about the surname on the back when it comes to the goaltenders.

No, you have to divide and stick steadfast to one of the guys, forcing a love relationship with him and oddly a hate for the other. It is really bizarre, this whole goaltender, pick-your-guy fandom going on right now in the Steel City.

I don’t have a guy. I just like to see coach Mike Sullivan do what gives his team the best chance to win.

To me, what gives this team the best opportunity to win what is essentially a three-game series right now (with two games at home) against the Nashville Predators is to stick with Matt Murray. Yep, there I said it.

Certainly, as all of Pittsburgh went to bed on Monday night and will wake up on Tuesday morning, Marc-Andre Fleury will be the most popular man in these parts. People will bellow and yell, stammer and scream for him to replace Murray after the Penguins fell to Nashville, 4-1, in Game 4 to even the series at two games each.

But I ask you this fundamentally: Was Matt Murray really the problem on Monday night?

And, would Marc-Andre Fleury have won that game?

From where I sat, the Penguins’ lack of being able to push a puck past the suddenly-hot Pekka Rinne was the problem, not Matt Murray.

You can tell me all about how Matt Murray allowed three goals on the first 12 shots in Game 4 or how Fleury has a .942 save percentage in the postseason at home — where Game 5 will be played.

You can tell me all about some kind of lift that Fleury might give the Penguins if Sullivan marches him out there for Game 5, how it will give this bunch a much-needed jolt after dropping the last two games.

I don’t buy it. I don’t buy any of it.

What I do buy is that the Penguins need to convert chances, that they need to find a way to fix the power play, that Phil Kessel needs to get going and that they need to start winning a faceoff here and there — especially in the offensive zone.

That is what needs to be fixed. It isn’t Matt Murray, who in my opinion stopped Game 4 from turning out to be a Nashville 9-1 win rather than just a 4-1 win as I thought he was actually pretty darn good in stretches.

Sorry to disappoint — I don’t have “a guy” when it comes to the Penguins’ goaltending situation. I just look at it for what it is.

And what it is right now? Matt Murray doesn’t seem to be a problem for the Penguins.

Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weekdays from 5:40 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at colin.dunlap@cbsradio.com. Check out his bio here.

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One Comment

  1. Stanley cup finals are not “business as usual”. Pittsburgh needs to have a goalie that can match the intensity of the other team. You cannot allow breakaway goals and wrap around goals in the finals if you want to win. When Murray was out, Fleury played exceptionally well. He has a bad game and was pulled in favor of Murray. Murray had a bad game, but was back for a mediocre performance last night. I’m having difficulty understanding Sullivan’s decision processes. Right now, I think if Sullivan sticks with Murray (who allows 2-3 goals per game) Pittsburgh will lose. Fleur has shown he can elevate his game-Murray has not.

  2. T.J. Barry says:

    Come on! I get it was a team effort in these losses. But his last 2 games have been terrible and his glove hand is exposed. I am not understanding this Matt Murray apologist BS! Fleury is as good, if not a better keeper. His reflexes are PROVEN with speed tests to the be the fastest in the history of the NHL. He has better stats and is a BIG game KEEPER. Fleury shut out the Caps in game 7 in Washington. Oh yeah and let’s not forget Game 7 in Detroit in 09. Do you really have that kind of confidence in this kid right now? Sullivan is totally FULL OF human excrement when he says he doesn’t have a guy! Fleury would never be given this type leeway.

    The kids played great last year with a full fast roster and a flying Defense in front of him. This year he is exposed, he needs that Defense to pick up where his skill sets lack. And right now with all the injuries and lack of possession, he is NOT the right choice. This is NOT a starter and backup thing, you have 2 TOP keepers, and one is better suited for the situation than the other.

    All the other problems are still there but at the end of the day, your editorial is complete nonsense.

  3. Alycia Berry says:

    I can respect you not having “a guy” but the fact is, Murray played just as well as Fleury did before he got pulled. That loss was just as much Fleury’s as these last two games were Murray’s in that the both the offensive and defensive lines are letting their goalies down. But Fleury has played the hell out of this Cup series, he has earned the right to see this through as the starter, or at least be brought in to replace Murray who seems to be struggling.

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