The riveting topic on local sports talk for the past couple of weeks is what to do with Fleury when he’s healthy enough to play. Despite the Penguins continuing to win and take care of business the focus has remained on who to play in net.

For a while the focus was on Fleury and whether he would start when he was healthy enough to play. Coach Mike Sullivan put an end to some of that buzz when Fleury dressed as the backup goaltender in his first game dressing for the playoffs and he has remained firmly entrenched on that spot of the bench.

It’s where he belongs right now.


I fully get that Fleury is the goaltender that has won a Stanley Cup for the Penguins. I firmly get that he has a wealth of playoff experience to draw from. I know that you are paying him starting goaltender money and that, up until his injury, he was the clear cut number one goaltender on a team with Stanley Cup aspirations.

Sometimes situations change and teams are forced to adapt.

Matt Murray has been playing at an extremely high level since getting the starting nod partway through the Rangers series. It took a goal that squeaked over the line by an inch to beat him in overtime of game 1 and it took a healthy dose of turnovers and stupid penalties by the black and gold to hang him out to dry in game 5.

Both of his playoff losses have come at the hands of the team that finished the season with the best record in the NHL. Unless you thought the Penguins were going to sweep the Capitals they were going to lose at least two games in this series.

Maybe you missed the video of Ovechkin shaking his head in frustration after all the saves Murray has made on him in this series. A lesser goaltender probably gives up a few more of the sniper shots Ovie has put on net in this one. A lesser goaltender would not have made 47 saves in Game 3 and completely stolen a game the Penguins probably had no business winning.

I’m not saying Fleury is a “lesser goaltender” by any means, but right now Murray is better. He’s playing at a level Fleury has only achieved once in his playoff career, and that didn’t even end with the cup.

Look at the stats Murray has so far this playoff season. He has a 6-2 record with a 1.96 GAA with a .937 save percentage. Both losses have come to the Capitals.

Marc-Andre Fleury’s best statistical season in the playoffs came in 2007-2008 when he helped the Penguins to the Stanley Cup Finals against Detroit before losing. He went 14-6 that year with a 1.97 GAA and a .933 save percentage. His GAA and save percentage are almost identical to what Murray has done so far this year and that was Fleury at his best and in full game shape.

Can you honestly say Fleury can come in not having played for almost a month and start playing at the level Matt Murray has shown in 8 games so far this year? Again, I am showing you that at his peak, in his very best playoff year, Fleury is still only equal to what Murray has been doing these last few weeks.

I know Fleury has his cheerleaders in the local media who have been stoking the fires of a return ever since he started to practice, but for my money I’m not making a goaltender change unless Murray gets destroyed in a game by the Capitals. I’m not even remotely thinking of a goaltender switch until the Eastern Conference Finals, assuming the Penguins make it that far.

Why mess with what got you a 3-1 series lead in the first place? Keep the pedal to the floor and go hard after the Capitals. Rely on the goaltender that’s left them shaking their heads after 47 shots in game 3. Rely on the goaltender that’s stolen a few games for you this year. Taking him out only plays into the Capitals hands. Don’t give them an advantage they haven’t earned.

Don’t bench Murray.

Posted in Pittsburgh Penguins