Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray was a fourth-round pick but quickly showed his immense potential after turning pro. He surged through the AHL with 12 shutouts. He staked claim to the Penguins net in his rookie year and shoved aside Penguins all-time wins leader Marc-Andre Fleury.
Before Murray’s rookie eligibility expired, he had two Stanley Cups.
“There were times when I would think to myself how lucky I was to experience this early in my career,” Murray said. “But looking back now, it was a blur. My career, to this point has been a blur.”
“I feel very fortunate to play in (those) big games,” Murray concluded.
The goalies went through the typical games of trivia and playing over/under. Murray may have a short memory after goals, but he seemed to remember a few of his career milestones, too.
Murray correctly guessed he needed less than 170 games to achieve 100 career wins, and he knew in which city he hit the milestone (Minnesota). He also knew he needed less than 30 saves for his first career shutout, though Murray thought he needed 28 when actually he needed only 24 to blank the New York Islanders on April 2, 2016.
The goalies traded war stories of trying to stop shots from active all-time goals leader, Washington winger Alex Ovechkin. The goalies agreed the puck is more like a 95mph knuckleball, which can move a foot or 18 inches, but Holtby added to Murray’s praise of Penguins winger Patric Hornqvist, too.
Hornqvist is a notorious, physical pest in front of the net who can enrage opponents, and dish a few bruises. Fortunately for Murray, Hornqvist doesn’t do much of that in practice, though Hornqvist knows his position.
“He’s definitely always in front of the net (in practice, too), making things difficult,” Murray said.
“And he apologizes after he does it, too,” Holtby marveled.
“He’s the nicest guy off the ice,” Murray finished the story.
Fleury and Cups
Of course, when NHL host and PR exec John Dellapina asked the goalies about mentors, Murray veraciously praised Fleury. Goalie battles can sometimes become cold or contentious, but Murray and Fleury avoided those traps.
“He was a big help to me. My first couple of years, looking for advice, he was a great mentor and great teammate,” Murray said. “I can’t say enough about him.”
Matt Murray praised his penalty killers for their willingness, or in some cases craziness, to block shots. He singled out Brandon Tanev, Teddy Blueger, Marcus Pettersson, and especially Zach Aston-Reese for well-timed blocks in crucial moments.
Murray also smiled as he brought up what is still a little bit of a sore subject to some Penguins fans.
“And I’d like to give a shoutout to former teammate Ian Cole,” Murray smiled. “He blocked the most shots ever.”
Murray fondly recalled the most important moments of winning the Stanley Cup. It’s not the praise or the diamond-encrusted bling but the joyous moments which immediately follow victory.
“Just the moments on the ice and in the room with teammates celebrating,” Murray said. “Everyone is going crazy.”
Perhaps Matt Murray or Holtby will have the chance to face Binnington this summer if the NHL return is successful, and someone will be able to go crazy again.