Matt Murray Continues to Shine in Fleury's Absence

The Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the New York Rangers on Saturday and moved on to the second round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, with a notable absence in their roster. Marc-Andre Fleury has been absent since suffering a concussion in late March. Backup goalies Matt Murray and Jeff Zatkoff have proven to be worthy replacements, however, earning wins in games 1 for Zatkoff and 3 through 5 for Murray (including a 5-0 shutout, his second this year).

“Especially for a young guy, you get a lot of thoughts in your head and can get ahead of yourself,” Murray said in an interview with NHL Network’s Kathryn Tappen and Dave Reid.

Fleury has been able to practice with the team since April 11th, but is still experiencing post-concussion symptoms and has yet been able to play a game. Coach Mike Sullivan said that there is no rush to get him in net, affirming that Penguins medical staff has handled Fleury’s situation well, and that they have the final say on whether he will be ready to play in the second round. Murray spoke about the older goalie, saying that “He’s been a huge mentor for me, and I’ll always appreciate having [him] around.”

When asked about the coming series against the Washington Capitals, Murray said “We know it’s going to be a challenge going forward… we’re going to have to stay on top of things defensively.”

Murray has faced the Capitals twice this season, the first timeĀ in a 3-2 loss at the beginning of March, and the other a 4-3 overtime win at the end of the season on April 7th. Fleury is 2-1 against Washington this season, and was in net the last time Pittsburgh and Washington met in the post-season, a seven-game series that the Penguins won in 2009, moving on to win the Stanley Cup. Zatkoff has not faced the Capitals this season.

When asked by the media after practice about the uncertainty of playing the second round, Murray said “It’s nothing new, you just have to be ready every day, use your practice time to stay sharp. It’s out of my control, so I really don’t worry about it.”

It is doubtful that Fleury will be able to go for game one, and so for at least the early part of this series, the Penguins will need Matt Murray to continue his strong play if they are to knock off the President’s Trophy winning Capitals.

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