Fleury is gone… Get over it.
Pittsburgh is famous for two things: great sports teams and fans that love their icons. Sometimes, that love lasts a little too long.
Marc Andre Fleury will go down as one of the best goalies in Penguins history, if not the best. Fleury’s smile and flexible play in net was a staple of one of the most dominant eras in Penguins history and he was a tremendous ambassador for our city.
But, that time has passed. In fact it has been over since Mike Sullivan and Matt Murray made their presence felt in the steel city in 2016.
Every time the goaltending looks a little shaky. When there isn’t some flashy stop on a 2 on 1. The fans cry for their flower power hero to return. They just can’t wrap their heads around MAF being gone.
Murray is the new model NHL goalie. He’s big, he’s steady, and his positioning is phenomenal. He’s certainly not diving all over the crease making unbelievable saves like Fleury. However I would argue that’s because he’s doing his job the right way. He relies on that positioning and size to make saves. When Murray is in net you know what your getting, and you don’t expect him to get beat unless the defense breaks down or the offense makes a remarkable play. You know the angles are sealed off and rebounds are minimal and overall the game feels calmer in the Penguin’s end.
Beyond the optics of watching him play, he has accomplished more in his first four years in the NHL than some will in their entire career; certainly more than the on again off again early days of MAF. In fact Fleury made stints in the AHL as a 23 year old.
Yes it’s true, when Fleury was in his infancy he too “Let in soft goals” and “Had no glove hand”. This is the same rallying cry Murray detractors love to spew. The difference is Murray inherited a team with expectations to win and fair or not he replaced a local legend. Fleury had time to grow and chalk his mistakes up to his age and a mediocre team. Murray doesn’t, he just gets the blame when they lose and when they win the defense played great. I’m here to tell you two Stanley cups before the age of 23 is not a fluke, and Matt Murray is one of the best in the league.
My hope for the Penguins faithful is that they stop looking behind them and realize Matt Murray is going to be here, and be elite for a long time. Maybe you should support the guy. After all without his play over the past month the Penguins would be missing the playoffs for the first time in the past 12 years. Murray’s March stat-line looks a little something like this (15g • 9-3-3 • GAA 2.18 • Sv% 935) – Yes. He played 15 games in March to those who think he’s made of glass.
The truth is Murray plays his best when it matters. When the season is on the line and the team needs a win he shows up. From the back to back shutouts to seal off the Nashville Predators in 2017, to this past week when he dominated a surging Carolina Hurricanes team to pretty much secure a spot in the playoffs. In that game Murray faced 38 shots and stopped all but one, for a 3-1 victory when the team needed him most.
Penguins fans, do yourself a favor and show Matt Murray some love. He’s your goalie and he’s a damn good one. He’s 24 years old, and has won your city 2 cups –buy a jersey – jump on the bandwagon – watch the growth of a special talent. Don’t miss out on the beginning of his career like you did with Fleury. It wasn’t that long ago you were crying for his head on a block too.