The Pittsburgh net officially belongs to Matt Murray after Marc-Andre Fleury was selected by the Golden Knights in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft. The 23-year-old will face several new challenges as a true No. 1 backstop, including taking on a full workload for the first time, but he hasn't shown any signs of being overwhelmed at hockey's highest level over the last two seasons. Fantasy owners should expect him to make 50-plus starts -- possibly pushing over 60 -- which is something he hasn't done since he was with Sault Ste. Marie in the OHL. The Thunder Bay native is a significantly different type of keeper than his predecessor, preferring to use solid positioning and technique as opposed to the pure athleticism and flash Pens fans had been accustomed to seeing from the Flower. If he can handle the load, Murray could very well contend for the Vezina Trophy, and it certainly doesn't hurt that he'll get bailed out of the occasional rough outing by Pittsburgh's high-octane offense.
Murray allowed three of 22 pucks to find the back of the net in Wednesday's preseason clash with Detroit. While many will chalk it up to being meaningless preseason action, fantasy owners and Pens fans alike are certainly expecting better out of the newly minted No. 1 in the Burgh. As planned, the netminder left the game after two periods and was replaced by Tristan Jarry -- who didn't fare much better.
Murray will be between the pipes for the opening two periods of Wednesday's clash with Detroit, Sam Kasan of Pens Inside Scoop reports. The pressure is on for Murray this season, as he will be the unquestioned No. 1 for the Pens with Marc-Andre Fleury now defending the cage in Vegas. Health will be the biggest question mark surrounding the 23-year-old -- especially after his last-minute absence at the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last year. If he can stay off the injury report, Murray figures to see upward of 60 starts this season, and he should post 30-plus wins with excellent ratios along the way.
Murray is working to cut down on the injuries that kept him sidelined for the start of the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs, Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. In addition to shrugging off the injury-prone label, Murray will have to deal with the pressure of replacing Marc-Andre Fleury -- something he's said can't truly be done. Instead, the 23-year-old said he's "just going to be myself" as he takes full-time command of the crease for the first time in his young career. Given the expectations surrounding the two-time Stanley Cup champion, he should be one of the first goalies off the board in fantasy drafts.
Murray's pregame exit from Game 1 of the playoffs was due to a torn hamstring, The Sports Xchange's Shelly Anderson reports. Murray missed 11 postseason games due to injury and then sat behind Marc-Andre Fleury for another three before he retook the starter's crease for the Penguins. While the 23-year-old did start 49 contests this past year, the presumption is that Flower will be headed to Vegas or traded away, which should mean a heavier workload for Murray in 2017-18. As the clear No. 1, the Thunder Bay native will be among the top options in goal for fantasy owners.
Murray turned aside all 27 shots Sunday in Game 6 against the Predators. The Penguins won 2-0, giving them their second Stanley Cup in as many years. What a story the Thunder Bay native has been. Not only has he won two Stanley Cups in his first two seasons in the NHL, but he's technically still a rookie. Murray showed plenty of resilience in this series, as well, as he shut the Predators out in back-to-back games after getting torched for a combined eight goals in Games 3 and 4. He finishes the playoffs with a 7-3 record, complemented by fantastic ratios (1.70 GAA, .937 save percentage) since returning from a lower-body injury that held him out for 16 straight games.
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