Monday night’s 7-0 pounding of the Arizona Coyotes was just another example of how good the Penguins can be when they’re clicking on all cylinders.
Goaltending performances tend to be lost in games like these where the offense puts up seven goals, each scored by a different Penguin, and that’s not fair.
Goaltender Matt Murray was not tested much at all but when he was, he was well prepared. Like the above save, Murray had to make about three tough saves the entire game. Yes, the Coyotes are a very poor playing hockey club right now. That’s not likely to change anytime soon. Couple that with the often rowdy crowd at PPG Paints Arena and you get a combination not many teams want to face, including the NHL’s worst franchise.
Tonight was just another example, though, of why Matt Murray has carried over the talent and momentum he had from last season’s Stanley Cup run and turned it into practically a starting job with that same team. He didn’t even let the broken hand suffered at the World Cup of Hockey stop him from attaining that. I’m willing to bet you forgot about that injury too.
Murray extended his regular season numbers to an even more unbelievable stature: 11-2-0, 1.84 GAA, .936 SV%.
His career regular season numbers? We’ve got those too:
20-4-1, 1.92 GAA, .933 SV%.
Of course he’s going to go through a rough patch at some point in his career. His numbers can not continue to stay that crazy from now clear through to his final NHL game.
Of all retired NHL goalies, Dominik Hasek leads the NHL in career save percentage (.922). He leads all retired goalies from 1990 on in GAA (2.20). Otherwise, Alec Connell leads with a 1.91 GAA.
With every game, Matt Murray just looks to be more and more poised. He seems more and more like that goalie that tore through AHL records like it was nothing on his way to Pittsburgh. He looks like potentially the goalie of his generation.
None of these characteristics phase Murray either. If you set out a goal for him and he didn’t meet it, even if it was the most astronomically impossible goal, he’d be pissed at himself. That’s the person he is. He’s competitive. He hates to lose and you can see it in the attitude he carries himself with.
The Penguins are playing better in front of Matt Murray even though I’ve previously disagreed with that notion. I have yet to see the Penguins willingness to string this kind of hot streak together with Flower. Whether that is just a coincidence or because he’s struggling to make saves to keep the team’s rhythm, it’s the truth. And they’ll keep playing Murray until he loses a game.
At the top of his game, Murray is proving to be an elite NHL goaltender with the likes of Carey Price, Henrik Lundqvist, Braden Holtby, and Jonathan Quick. Keep in mind I said top of their game. That’s where Murray is playing right now and if he continues to do so, the Penguins might find themselves playing in June again.