Tristan Jarry had a substandard playoff series. He struggles in shootouts. For all of the criticism, the Pittsburgh Penguins goalie receives, he has the best numbers of the last three Penguins starting goalies yet fails to get the respect afforded to his predecessors Matt Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury.
In fairness, each of the last two No. 1 Penguins goalies won a Stanley Cup, or two, or three. It would be unprecedented in the salary cap era, or recent history, for the Pittsburgh Penguins core in their mid-30s to win another Cup but never say never, eh?
The highest save percentage Fleury posted with the Penguins was .921, achieved twice. The highest stopper number Murray posted was in his “second” rookie year at .923.
In 2019-20, Jarry stopped .921. After stopping 36 shots on 38 attempts (that’s happened four times this season) on Thursday night, Jarry’s save percentage is .929.
“This guy is big. He is extremely gifted, he is talented and very athletic, he is a great kid, and he has been a star in virtually every level that he has played at,” Penguins President of Hockey Ops Brian Burke told our friends at 93-7 the Fan last month. “He was a star in the American League. He was a star in the Western Hockey League. So we believe in this kid.”
That comment was before Jarry’s start.
Also, Jarry (1) already has more All-Star Game appearances than Murray (0).
But he can’t win in the playoffs. That’s “proven,” Kingerski!
Maybe it’s like being the Steelers QB. The credit goes to everyone else and the blame goes squarely to Jarry. That’s ignorant but that’s how it goes.
You may remember Fleury stopped less than 90% of his shots in five of his first seven playoff appearances. Fleury eventually figured it out and has been a consistent playoff performer ever since.
Of course, Murray played his best hockey after the regular season. Some guys just have it. Others have to learn it.
It would seem silly to toss Jarry aside for the same sin many goaltenders have committed: not being good in his first playoff series.
In August, Hextall was definitive, if not a wee bit defiant about his goalie.
“…When you’re goaltender–and I’ve lived it–there are disappointments that you have to get over, and you have to bounce back from. And, I feel strongly that Tristan is going to bounce back and be a very good goaltender for us throughout the entire year.”
By virtue of their shootout win on Thursday night, the Pittsburgh Penguins are 5-3-4. With 14 points, they’re still seventh among the eight Metro Division teams, but how often has Jarry been the best Penguins player and one of the primary differences between a point(s) and no points?
By our estimation, Jarry has already delivered four points. Maybe 5.
If you’d like to cite advanced statistics, the best Goals-Saved-Above-Average that Fleury posted with the Penguins was 10.8 (Fleury exceeded 20 with Vegas, twice). The best GSAA that Matt Murray gave the Penguins was 14.7.
The stat accumulates throughout the season, and Jarry is already at 5.2. His best (2019-20) was better than’s Fleury’s best–11.1.
Jarry has an impressive .892 save percentage against the high-danger chances, according to NaturalStatTrick.com. That’s the eighth-best in the league.
So, tell me again that Tristan Jarry isn’t a No. 1 starting goalie?
Of goalies who have played at least five games this season, Jarry ranks 10th in save percentage. A few goalies have had extraordinary starts, such as Elvis Merzlikins in Columbus, at .940. The aging Jonathan Quick is .935, as the LA Kings are shocking everyone with a hot start.
Neither will last, but Jarry’s .929 is in line with personal projections and attainable goals.
Most teams, including Columbus, have most of their defense intact, too. The Penguins decidedly…do not.
The NHL season is a month old. The Pittsburgh Penguins are decimated. Injury, illness, locusts, and plague have visited the house at PPG. No one has been spared, from head coach Mike Sullivan, the captain Sidney Crosby, the other two stars (Kris Letang, Evgeni Malkin), the new stars (Jake Guentzel, Bryan Rust), the top of the defense (Brian Dumoulin), and the bottom of the blue line (Marcus Pettersson, Chad Ruhwedel).
And yet they’re just a couple of points out of a playoff spot.
“I think last year just beginning the season (so poorly)–One of the things I wanted to focus on (this year) was just having better starts, making sure I’m giving the team a chance and making sure that I’m keeping them in it early if need be or if they need to be slowed down whatever I need to do,” Jarry said after another stellar performance in a 3-2 OT win over the Philadelphia Flyers.
“I think that was something that I emphasized that I wanted to work on my game, and I think it’s something that I’ve really put a strong foot forward and trying to improve.”
Praise the Penguins’ ability to weather adversity, or their willingness to attack despite marching with a drum and fife. Praise the uptempo system or Evan Rodrigues or Drew O’Connor and Brian Boyle.
But the one player most deserving of praise and most deserving of a change in perception is Tristan Jarry. It’s time to respect the 26-old goalie as a legit No. 1.