Tristan Jarry is now a wanted man in the Pittsburgh Penguins locker room. No, you won’t find wanted posters or crimes committed, unless you figuratively count the times the Penguins goalie robbed shooters on Wednesday and Friday nights in back-to-back shutout wins. Jarry currently has a scoreless streak of 142 minutes and 46 seconds and now he must deal with the media.
The shutout wins showcased both sides of Jarry’s game. The Wednesday 3-0 shutout win over St. Louis was the stellar, confident Jarry. He planted himself on top of the crease, played big and played a quiet game. His great saves didn’t look as difficult as they truly were because he was in position and waiting for the Grade A chances.
Friday night, the Arizona Coyote puck movement had Jarry scrambling. He literally barrel-rolled across the crease on a couple of sequences. But he did enough to keep the puck out of the net at all times, with some help from his defense, too.
“The guys are making timely blocks. It’s helping me out. They’re keeping the pucks to the side,” Jarry said. “They’re staying in front of me as much as they can and it’s helping me out.”
The save of the night on Friday was steady, calm and absolute theft with a pad save on Arizona forward Clayton Keller’s power-play snap.
“I saw the puck coming towards me. There was nothing I could do but sprawl out. Luckily, it hit me in the foot,” Jarry said of Keller’s chance with seven minutes remaining.
But behind the scenes, Jarry is working to be and sound like the mature goalie the Penguins want. The jokey smiles and chuckles during questions from reporters have gone. The amusement of being in Pittsburgh or the perception of not taking some things seriously has disappeared like a wrist shot into his pads.
Tristan Jarry Surge
Jarry is mounting a real challenge to starting Penguins goalie Matt Murray.
Jarry and Sullivan have acknowledged some of the things the Penguins told him at the end of last season. The Penguins wanted him to take some things more seriously, most notably practice. He’s done that and the results into December don’t need additional hype.
In 11 games played, Jarry has an eye-popping .941 save percentage and a ridiculous 1.81 goals against average. He’s won six of his last seven starts including two shutouts and two games in which he allowed just one goal.
“For sure, (we’ve rethought the division of labor). He’s played extremely well,” head coach Mike Sullivan said. “We’re trying to make decisions with all of our positions, but we’re trying to make decisions to win games in the short run but also trying to have the big picture in mind. Tristan’s had his last handful of starts, we feel he’s been really good.”
Surely, the supposed backup goalie Jarry noticed that he’s appeared in six of the last seven games, and started five of the last six, including both front ends of the back-to-back games. The front end of the weekend games is the spot reserved for the starter. And while it may not be Jarry’s net yet, he’s filling the role of the starting goalie in the NHL.
What’s his reaction to being placed in the starter’s spots?
“It’s just something that whenever I’m called upon. It’s something they’ve tried, and whenever I’m called upon, I try to be ready for it,” Jarry said as he shut down the question like a scoring chance.
OK, let’s try a rebound question by reminding him that’s he’s played six of the last seven games. What has that done for him and his confidence?
“Just whenever I’m called upon. It’s not something I’m expecting, I’m just trying to do the best I can in practice,” he said evenly. “When I’m called upon, I try to be ready for it.”
Jarry’s .941 save percentage and ridiculous goals against average can’t be maintained. It would be the equivalent of a 150-point season by Sidney Crosby. There will be a few valleys to go with the peaks, but Jarry is on top right now. What is his mindset and confidence level?
“I’m just trying to get better every day,” he said. “That was my focus from the beginning of the season and prove to myself I could do that.”
Jarry is learning to give nothing away, on the ice or in front of the cameras. At 24-years-old, he’s making a serious run at the Penguins starting job and he’s doing everything which was asked or demanded of him. Most importantly, he’s stopping pucks.
If the Penguins goalie battle was a boxing match, Tristan Jarry would lead 3-0 after four rounds.
Editors Note: The original version incorrectly calculated Jarry’s scoreless streak at 142:19