Written by The Burgh Blog writer Austin Tocco:
The Pittsburgh Penguins have a 3-1 series lead against the New York Rangers… sound familiar? The Penguins were ousted in the 2014 playoffs by the rival Rangers when up 3-1. The Penguins have noted that the earlier the next win, the better. The Penguin faithful has a different feeling about this year, however, the new look Penguins are a more balanced team guided with potentially the coach of the year in Mike Sullivan and staff. The Penguins have built their game plans off of the skill that the team has and the speed. Each and every line on this team has a threat whether it is Sidney Crosby or Matt Cullen, each player brings something special to the table. Matt Murray being one of these key players.
At the beginning of the year, Murray was the starting goaltender for the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins, now he is the starting goaltender for the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The 6’4’’ goaltender is playing his best hockey and has become extremely effective between the pipes. What amazes me is he is only a kid, 21 years old. Murray will be the face of the Pittsburgh Penguins in years to come, his poise, calmness, vision on the ice, and off ice skills have led the Penguins to this lead against king Henrik and the Rangers. I would have never expected Matt Murray to shine the way he has. He carries himself like a controlled veteran that has been in the league for 10 years. Many people have asked when Fleury is coming back, why? This kid is for real, last year in the AHL, Murray collected 12 shutouts and has a GAA of 1.58, unbelievable.
As much as I love Marc-Andre Fleury, you have to keep riding the streak of the hot goaltender, the entire team is behind him and will do anything in their power to drive the team to success. As sad as it is to say, Marc-Andre Fleury very well may have worn a Penguins jersey for the last time. This is obviously based off of speculation, and if I was Jim Rutherford, I would consider. I am not talking bad about the team’s MVP the past 2 seasons and very well kept them from missing the postseason last year, I just think it might be in their best interest to consider all options. Fleury is set to make $5.75 million for the next 4 years, which is a nice chunk of the salary for the organization. Also, Gary Bettman, the league commissioner is likely to expand the league either next year or the year after. That calls for an expansion draft, each team in the NHL can only lock one goaltender, not locking Matt Murray would be a tragedy. If Murray brings a cup back to the Burgh, no one will be against having this kid in net for the next 15 years.
The Penguins won game 4 in convincing fashion. Murray posting his first career playoff shutout at Madison Square Garden, and the team collected 5 goals to back him up. The Penguins dominated from the puck drop. In the playoffs, to win, you have to dictate the style of play, when the Penguins lost game 2 by a score of 4-2, the Rangers dominated the entire game by clogging up the neutral zone and not allowing any speed through it, now, the Penguins have dominated this aspect of the game which is why they have been so successful. I truly believe that this year’s team has the ability to not only beat the New York Rangers, but I also believe that they are the only team in the eastern conference that can beat the Washington Capitals.
The NHL post-season is something to admire, especially when your team is in it. The chills you get when you see Kris Letang giving everything he has in him in the last minute of the game or seeing Phil Kessel back checking is truly a sight to see. These Penguins have built a level of confidence that they truly have what it takes to make it to the next level, the time is now to win the series, and out the Rangers for the first time in 3 consecutive post-seasons.
The Penguins host the New York Rangers on Saturday at 3pm (EST) on NBC. There would be nothing better as a die-hard Penguins fan than to see our boys clinch on home ice in front of 18,000 strong and carrying all the momentum in the world into the next round. Oh, and it would be astounding to finally see Henrik on the losing end shaking a 21 year old goalie’s hand at the end of the game.
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