It was assumed that the Pittsburgh Penguins would have rookie goalie Matt Murray between the pipes in Game 1 of their first-round series against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday night. After all, he was their starter this season, coming off a run to the Stanley Cup in 2016.
Well, assumptions can be funny like that: It was veteran Marc-Andre Fleury got the start against the Blue Jackets.
Both Murray and Fleury took warm-ups, with Murray going through the motions as the starter. According to Dan Rosen of NHL.com, Murray left the ice with seven minutes left in warm-ups while Fleury remained on the ice.
When the Penguins skated out for Game 1, it was with Fleury as the starter. Tristan Jarry, who played in Pittsburgh’s season finale against the New York Rangers, was the backup as Murray was scratched.
Murray didn’t appear in the Penguins’ last two regular season games. There was speculation he might have been injured making a save on Taylor Hall against the Devils on April 6, but Murray downplayed it. There are indications that this was an injury suffered in warm-ups.
Fleury’s last appearance was a start against the Toronto Maple Leafs on April 8, giving up four goals on a loss. He was 18-10-7 this season with a 3.02 GAA and a .909 save percentage in 38 appearances – the first rime since his rookie season that Fleury wasn’t their starter.
As you’re no doubt aware, the playoffs are a bit of an adventure for Fleury. He has a career .906 save percentage. He backstopped the Penguins to conference tittles in 2008 and 2009, and the Stanley Cup in 2009. He’s also had series in which he looked inept and was a liability.
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said Murray has a lower-body injury that he suffered in warm-ups.
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