The Nashville Predators have stormed back to even the Stanley Cup Final at 2-2, leading some to wonder if it’s time for a big change for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Over the last two games, the Penguins have allowed nine goals, while Predators goalie Pekka Rinne has performed remarkably, allowing just two goals with 50 saves in that time.
It may be time to for the Penguins to consider making a change in goal, as Matt Murray has looked a step slow in net after two strong games to begin the series.
Replacing Murray with backup Marc-Andre Fleury may be a bit controversial, however. Fleury performed well in 15 games this postseason, posting a .924 save percentage, but he was replaced by Murray in the Eastern Conference Finals after allowing four goals in a first period to the Senators in Game 3. Murray, who was penciled to start in the postseason but was out with an injury, took his place and hasn’t looked back.
Murray, who’s just 23, started for the Penguins last postseason, posting a .923 save percentage en route to winning the Stanley Cup Final.
After the loss on Monday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan was in no mood to debate a potential change in net.
“We just finished the game about a minute-and-a-half ago,” Sullivan said.
Murray also said he thought Murray played “pretty well,” only saying he wished he would have been more aggressive in challenging a shot by Predators wing Viktor Arvidsson in the second period.
As Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette notes, Fleury didn’t deserve such a short stick in being replaced by Murray for one poor performance after playing remarkably well in the first two rounds. According to Cook, Fleury privately “seethed” over the change, but didn’t show it, and the substitution seemed to spark the Penguins to overcome a 2-1 series deficit to the Senators.
Now, however, any change would be a dramatic one, with the season coming down to a best-of-three series. Replacing Murray with the player slated to be his backup would be a bold adjustment with so much on the line, but the Penguins also risk going down 3-2 and heading back to Nashville for a decisive Game 6 if they don’t make a change.