Penguins Playing “Average” Hockey So Far

Alex Restauri, Staff Writer

The NHL season is a quarter of the way over and the Penguins have been, well, the Penguins. Like they usually are, they sit comfortably in the playoff race, second in the Metropolitan Division behind the New York Rangers.

Recently the Pens have been a .500 team; when they win they lose the next game and vise versa. Head Coach Mike Sullivan doesn’t think the Pens are playing good enough. He believes that they could be at the top of the division and so do the fans.

Part of the average play that the Pens have recently faced has been the mediocre play of goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. “The Flower” has a Goals against average of 3.39 (highest it has ever been)and a save percentage of .904 % (which is the  worst it has been since his rookie season).  Fleury has a 7-5-3 record and some losses have included a 5-1 loss to Nashville, a 6-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild, and a 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers.

Some people will make the argument that these losses have not been Fleury’s fault. When Marc-Andre plays, the Pens average 33 shots against. In the Minnesota loss,  Fleury still made 30 saves, which isn’t a bad night.

When star goalie Matt Murray plays, the team seems to play much better defense. Murray averages 24 saves a game and has a 2.02 goals against average along with a .929 save percentage. These numbers are much better than the Quebec native Fleury. Murray’s record this season is 7-2-0, one of Murray’s two losses was against the Washington Capitals, where he allowed 2 goals and had to leave when Penguins Defenseman Kris Letang accidentally high sticked him. Fleury would come in and allow 5 more goals, the final score was 7-1.

The answer to the goal tending question seems obvious, Murray is the man. Murray has only played 22 games in his NHL career while Fleury has played 669 games and has over 350 wins. It will be interesting to see who stays and who goes.

Rookie forward Jake Guentzel was called up when Patrick Hornqvist and Chris Kunitz both got injured. On his first NHL shift and first NHL shot, he scored on the 5-hole on Rangers goalie Raanta to give the Pens the lead. He would score again that game but the Pens would lose. Guentzel has 3 goals and 1 assist in 5 games played.

Forwards Sidney Crosby, Connor Sheary , and Evgeni Malkin have all been playing great through out the season, showing teams that they can score when the Pens need goals.