CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. – Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray insists it is one area where he is not in sync. That is, his numbers and performance this season don’t jibe with the way he feels about his game.
“I go off how I feel, and I don’t feel as bad as the results show,” Murray said Tuesday after practice at the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.
Anything he doesn’t like?
“I don’t like that we’re losing, not scoring as many goals as the other team,” he said, not quite in deadpan mode.
Murray is 24, has won two Stanley Cups and – yes, let’s bring it up – was chosen over Marc-Andre Fleury to be the Penguins’ franchise goaltender for years to come.
Somewhat surprisingly, backup Casey DeSmith will start Wednesday night when the Dallas Stars visit PPG Paints Arena.
Murray is 4-5-1 just shy of a quarter of the way into the season. He has been pulled four times, including his last start and the team’s last game, a 5-4 overtime loss to Buffalo on Monday when he did not get a decision. His .877 save percentage and 4.08 goals-against average are bloated compared with his career averages – .913 and 2.17.
At times, the Penguins have turned to DeSmith to give Murray a chance to work with goaltending coach Mike Buckley on his game. Murray was asked if playing more consistently would help him.
“That’s not my choice, so I can’t really worry about that,” he said.
Pressed for his opinion, he stood firm: “I don’t worry about that. It’s not my choice.”
He declined to outline what he and DeSmith specifically work on with Buckley.
“A lot of stuff. I’m not going to get into all the technical stuff,” he said.
Murray, DeSmith and Buckley have their way of approaching practice and game days, and it’s a little different from the rest of the team.
“Pretty much the same routine,” Murray said. “Every day is the same schedule, so we like to do a routine. That’s kind of the life of an athlete. You stick to your routine. Routine has nothing to do with (any struggles).”
That said, Tuesday the little goalie band of brothers broke their routine. The three of them usually go onto the ice before anyone else at practice to stretch and work together for maybe 10 or 15 minutes. Tuesday, the goalies came out with the skaters and did not have an individual session with Buckley.
“Yeah, once in a while we do that, just take a break,” Murray explained. “Us goalies tend to get the biggest workload in practice, so sometimes we just need to take a little bit of time off.”
The Penguins have a busy upcoming schedule. Wednesday marks the first of five games in eight nights, including the first two sets of back-to-back games, so presumably both goalies will be needed.
With the Penguins stuck in a 1-7-2 rut, there has been talk of simplifying their game. That mostly applies to skaters and scheme, but Murray said it can apply to goalies, too.
“Yeah, sure,” he said. “You’ve just got to do everything you can to stop the puck, whatever that is.”