PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan) – The Pittsburgh Penguins have one of the most unique goalie situations across the NHL on their hands right now.
No other team in the league can say they have two goalies on their roster that have both won Stanley Cup championships and have quite the pedigree that Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray have. But right now, the defending Cup champions are dealing with another issue; playing consistently for the full 60 minutes.
NHL Network analyst John MacLean joined “The Fan Morning Show” Thursday to discuss both “Murray-Fleury” and the Penguins’ inconsistencies so far this season. MacLean says as long as nothing goes horribly awry, the Pens will wait for the opportune time to enact a trade involving a goaltender.
“‘When is the right time?’ And that’s the biggest question and that’s why [Penguins general manager] Jim [Rutherford], I’m sure he is assessing the situation daily,” said MacLean. “You know, you talk about Matt Murray, yeah you had two great goaltenders to win to a Stanley Cup last year, you may need the same thing to back there this year. So, you don’t want to be a knee-jerk reaction just because we [those outside the organization] don’t think it works, but as long as it’s working okay right now with them rotating games at different times, I think they’ll go with that as long as possible and until they get exactly what they feel they need to improve their club.”
Does sharing time restrain either goalie from reaching the peak of his game?
“This schedule this year is a little more condensed than it has been in the past because of the World Cup, so there’s a lot of games, there’s going to be opportunities for these guys to get some playing time,” said MacLean. “Yet, on the other hand, if you look at it, they’re not getting the practice time as well that they would like.”
“Competition is not a bad thing,” MacLean said. “Both [are] proud guys. They go in there and they play. Marc-Andre Fluery gets the net next game, you know he’s going to be ready and that’s how you have to look at it as well. If he doesn’t perform, then I think we may be closer to seeing something may break sooner before the New Year starts.”
The Penguins have made a habit of getting down early in games and then storming back to either win or tie the game this season. MacLean says that while this may not be a huge problem in November, head coach Mike Sullivan is going to kick his guys into gear to play a full game of consistent hockey soon.
“I think coach Sullivan is watching it here, you can see, not frustration behind the [bench] but more possibly rolling his eyes at certain times,” said MacLean. “He’s going to put the screws to them here at some point, it’s just kind of, ‘Okay guys, you can’t keep playing like this, we need the full 60, we need the full 60.’ And they just haven’t given the full 60 yet. But, the definite talent is there to give it. They’ll make a push here I think, November you get through it and now December, he’ll be talking, ‘Hey guys, let’s go. We want to be in a good spot here for our couple days off at Christmas.'”
Another trend early in this campaign has been star center Evgeni Malkin and his propensity to taking penalties, sometimes in what some would describe as “sloppy” or “lazy” fashion. But, MacLean says to let it slide for now and that both Malkin and the team’s play will be straightened out soon.
“He has to play with an edge,” said MacLean. “He gets attacked a little different than Sidney Crosby does. Malkin likes to engage physically all the time, like always want to be around it. Sid goes in and out of it, not that he’s not physical, he goes in and out of it, but Malkin is that big guy, that big heavy guy that can play and wants that puck and he’s not afraid to try different things. So, at certain times when something doesn’t go his way, he may get a little frustrated with it, but you know what, that stuff pays off as the season goes on. Some guys might not want to get whacked by him either and give him a little more room. And you know what? I think right now they can live with it. As the season goes on I think everybody will start tightening up.”
You can hear the entire interview with John MacLean on “The Fan Morning Show” below.