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Matt Murray is Having a Bad Season

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Matt Murray By Michael Miller (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Tristan Jarry will be getting his second consecutive start tonight as the Penguins face the Bruins at PPG Paints Arena. That means Matt Murray, whose struggles this year have been painfully obvious to most Penguins observers, has been relegated to a backup role for the time being.

Jarry is having a strong season. He’s 7-3-2 with a 2.17 goals against average and a .928 save percentage. Murray, on the other hand, is 14-12-1 with a .902 save percentage and a 2.97 goals against average. Out of goalies to appear in at least 20 games, Murray ranks 28th out of 31 in save percentage and 26th out of 31 in goals against.

There’s no getting around it, Murray’s play has been poor, and the stats more than back up that assessment. But what do the advanced stats say? Could Murray’s struggles be a result of defensive lapses and all-around poor play on the Penguins side?

Unfortunately for Murray and the Penguins, the advanced stats not only back-up everything else, they portray the two-time cup champion in an even more negative light. (Although to be fair, the Penguins have allowed way above league average on shots from the middle of the defensive zone between 10 and 20 feet.)

Here’s how Murray stacks up using Corsica.hockey’s advanced goalie metrics. In expected save percentage (save percentage minus expected save percentage) Murray is last in the NHL among goalies with over 800 minutes played with a -1.75%. His low danger save percentage of 96.35% is fourth worst out of 30 goalies. In medium danger opportunities, he ranks 12th with a 90.75 save percentage and his high danger save percentage of 77.21 puts him 6th worst. His goals saved above average of -11.14 puts him dead last in the league, well behind Craig Anderson (-9.44) and Thomas Greiss (-7.45).

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Handy Charts

Here’s a handy chart showing goals saved above average per 60 minutes, made by Sean Tierney (using data from corsica.hockey) that really drives home how Murray’s performed on the season.

Diving in even deeper, Murray, using numbers from Hockey Reference, has a .429 quality start percentage (12-28 starts). That’s well below the 53% expected for an average goaltender. (A quality start defined as any start in which a goalie achieves a save percentage above league average, or above .885 in starts where he faces fewer than 20 shots.) For reference, Murray had a .700 quality start percentage in last year’s playoffs and a .667 in 2015-16. During the 2016-17 season, Murray had a .553 QS% in 47 starts.

What does it all mean? If anything is to be gleaned from Jarry getting the nod in consecutive games—Murray’s struggles are Jarry’s opportunities and it looks like the Penguins will continue to ride the hot hand, at least for now.

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Terry

    January 7, 2018 at 9:00 pm

    You just couldn’t wait to write this i agree he has been off most of the year as has most of the team but since he’s replacing your beloved fleury you just couldn’t wait to hammer him you could write this same article about a number of players on this team including sid but you single Murray out thats bullcrap

    • Joseph Steigerwald

      January 7, 2018 at 11:32 pm

      I wrote it about Murray because statistically he’s been the worst goaltender in the NHL so far this year and I found that interesting. If Crosby or Malkin was statistically the worst at their position I would have written about that.

      See, in regards to goaltenders there are certain metrics that one can use to judge their play. Now, it’s not perfect and it’s a bit of a surprise that Murray ranked last—or bottom 5 as the case may be—but here we are.

      With position players it’s harder to assign a ranking other than with points and Corsi. With players like Crosby and Malkin, their numbers aren’t drastically beneath their historical average. While their play hasn’t been up to their usual stratospheric levels—although it looks like they could be on their way after the past two games, it certainly hasn’t deviated from what you’d expect like Murray’s has this year.

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