NASHVILLE – For a 23-year-old NHL goalie who already has a Stanley Cup under his belt and is two wins away from a second, nothing seems to faze Matt Murray.
The Pittsburgh Penguins netminder had his worst outing in over two months on Saturday when the Nashville Predators took Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final 5-1. One stat that should inspire confidence that they’ll head back home for Thursday’s Game 4 is how Murray and his teammates respond after a loss.
In his young playoff career (28 starts), the Penguins are 7-0 after losses when Murray starts, with the netminder posting a .935 save percentage in those outings. And this season, he’s only lost back-to-back starts three times.
You’re not going to impress Murray by passing along those stats to him. He doesn’t know and doesn’t care about those numbers.
“I just play the game,” Murray said. “Doesn’t matter the scenario, doesn’t matter what’s going on. My job doesn’t change so I just play.”
Murray’s cool demeanor can be attributed to one simple routine. When things get a little hairy, just breathe. “As soon as you starting thinking about too much or you start to get too far ahead of yourself you just kind of come back to that, focus on your breathing, just take a deep breath and realize where you are and realize the moment that you’re in,” he said during last year’s Cup Final. “That’s probably the biggest thing that I do.”
So for all the talk of the raucous Bridgestone Arena crowd on Saturday night, the pressure of being in another Cup Final and his youth, Murray’s not going to be affected by any of that.
“Usually that’s a certain maturity in a player’s game, regardless of the position,” said Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan. “It might be most difficult at the goaltending position for obvious reasons. That’s a maturity in someone’s game that usually takes time to acquire.
“Matt has that instinctively. I think that’s one of the things that makes him as good a goaltender as he is. He has the ability to move by that stuff. He puts his best foot forward. He controls what he can. He has a consistent approach to his game. He doesn’t let any of the outside noise have an impact on his ability to perform.”
One bad game? Murray’s just going to do what he’s always done: park it and move on.
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