There was a lot of news to come out of the Pittsburgh Penguins' morning skate Sunday. First off, Marc-Andre Fleury will make his first start of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs in Game 5, taking the place of rookie goaltender Matt Murray who had been in net since Game 3 of the opening round against the New York Rangers. Secondly, top-four defenseman
With the Eastern Conference finals series tied 2-2 with the these are two major developments ahead of a crucial Game 5 in Pittsburgh.
The loss of Daley is a tough one as he had been one of the Penguins' more effective blueliners throughout the postseason. The veteran suffered the injury during a collision along the boards with Lightning forward in Game 4. Daley's leg got caught against the boards as Callahan followed through on his hit.
Daley has averaged over 22 minutes a game in 15 playoff games so far. He had six points.
Fleury replacing Murray is an interesting move for head coach Mike Sullivan. The veteran netminder saw his first action of the postseason Friday night when he replaced Murray at the start of the third period of Game 4. The Penguins' comeback fell a goal short as they ended up losing 4-3. Fleury, only had to make seven saves in 18:26 of action as he was pulled for the extra attacker.
That 18:26 was the only game action Fleury has seen since March 31. Fleury wasn't even cleared to play until after Game 3 of the second-round series against the Washington Capitals. He had missed 12 games while dealing with concussion symptoms and has been sitting on the bench for the last two-plus weeks as Murray's backup.
With his name on the Stanley Cup and 97 career playoff starts under his belt, the Penguins could find some stability in their veteran goaltender following a particularly rough game for the team. It was almost as if they were waiting for Murray to falter to present them with the opportunity to finally get Fleury back in there. Now they're taking full advantage of it.
The rookie goaltender is a big reason the team got to this point, however. Murray made 13 starts and has posted a 9-4 record, .923 save percentage and 2.33 goals-against average. The 21-year-old now has made as many playoff appearances as he has regular-season appearances. He went 9-2-1 in the regular season with a .930 save percentage and 2.00 goals-against average. However, he gave up four goals in Game 4, even if most of those goals weren't completely on him.
Fleury, meanwhile, will hope to pick off where he left off before getting injured. The longtime Penguins goaltender had a strong season with a .921 save percentage and 35-17-6 record over 58 starts. However, despite his Stanley Cup win back in 2009, Fleury's postseason numbers aren't great.
He is 53-44 in 97 career starts in the playoffs, with a .906 save percentage and 2.64 goals-against average. However, he had one of his better postseason performances in last year's playoffs. The Penguins lost in the first round, but Fleury gave them a chance with a .927 save percentage over his five starts. He allowed just 11 goals over the series, while the Penguins couldn't seem to score enough to help him out.
Considering the stakes of the series with it tied heading into Game 5, the players are going to know the urgency they need to play with. A goaltending switch probably isn't going to do much to change the mentality. What they have to wonder about, though, is how the long layoff between starts has affected Fleury if at all.
As we saw Saturday night, Jake Allen was able to step in for the St. Louis Blues after not starting a game since early April and helped them even their series with the in the Western Conference finals.
As for Daley, his minutes will be tough to replace. looks likeliest to draw back into the lineup, which Sullivan said will be revealed at game time. The young Finnish blueliner has struggled at various points of the postseason and Tampa Bay's speed could challenge him. However, he's got enough experience at this point where he appears to be the Penguins' best option.
Both new additions to the lineup should expect to be tested early as the Lightning won't waste much time trying to see just how ready the new players are.
Game 5 is set for 8 p.m. ET.