Should The Pittsburgh Penguins Be Concerned About Matt Murray?

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Matt Murray
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 20: Matt Murray /

Despite giving up 4 goals this past Tuesday in the Pittsburgh Penguins’ loss to  the San Jose Sharks, star goaltender Matt Murray seems to be returning to the high levels he played at over the last couple seasons.

Ever since returning from injury on December 15th, the Pittsburgh Penguins goalie has played some of his best hockey, saving over 94% of the shots he’s faced during the 10-game span, and riding a 9-game win streak until the loss on Tuesday, improving his overall record on the season to 13-6-1.

Murray at the beginning of the season had his struggles, with a .877 save percentage, in 11 games and a record of 4-5-1. In 7 of those 11 games, Murray had given up 4 or more goals, and only had one lone shutout against Toronto in the third game of the season.

Since his return from injury, Murray has posted a .945 save percentage along with 2 shutouts in those 10 games, allowing only 1.8 goals against per game. So what has changed since the beginning of the season?

One of the most noticeable differences is that Murray has only given up one goal while short-handed since returning from his injury, whereas he gave up a total of 10 goals prior, nearly 1 goal per game.

On the season, Murray owns a .923 even strength save percentage, which is a huge difference when compared to his save percentage while shorthanded, which is just .861. Another issue for Murray, which has been constant for the whole team this year, is preventing goals while on the Power Play.

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So far, Murray has given up 4 goals to go along with a measly .810 save percentage, well below his career percentage of .907. However, as mentioned the Penguins have had this issue all season, regardless of who is in net.

While the goaltender has had his fair share of struggles this season, he hasn’t been as bad as the stats suggest. For instance, in his last start against San Jose, the Penguins were outplayed on the ice, losing in Corsi shots 57-48 while blocking just 16 to the Sharks’ 12. San Jose also started in the Penguins zone 67% of the time, leading to 4 goals against Murray.

I wouldn’t be too concerned about Matt Murray, who has dealt a strong hand since his return from injury, but the next few games will likely point to whether or not the 2-time Stanley Cup champion is truly struggling, or if the Penguins’ poor defensive play is the cause.

Stats from Hockey-Reference