How Clutch is Matt Murray?

2016 NHL Playoffs, 2017 NHL Playoffs, Best Goaltenders, Matt Murray, NHL Goaltending, Penguins Goaltending, Pittsburgh Penguins, Top Story


Late in the 2015-16 season, Pittsburgh’s third round (83rd overall selection) of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, got his shot in the NHL when Marc-Andre Fleury fell to a concussion.

Murray, a standout performer in the American Hockey League with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in 2014-15 and the early part of 2015-16, was called up. His record in 58 career AHL games was 37-15-3 with 16 shutouts. That’s the equivalent of a shutout once every 3.6 AHL games. Beyond impressive for the phenom. But could he dominate in the faster paced NHL?

Marc-Andre Fleury (29) and goalie Matt Murray (30) (Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports)

After spending his first game as a backup to Jeff Zatkoff, Murray looked good in his long-awaited debut in net, despite losing 2-1 to the Carolina Hurricanes. He earned the game’s third star of the night.

Mike Sullivan, Murray’s coach in the AHL but now the head coach in Pittsburgh, tabbed the poised 21-year old to start the next game. He responded with a 5-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, then a 3-1 win against the Minnesota Wild. He’s never looked back.

Murray’s Incredible Run

Since then, life as Matt Murray is pretty hard to beat. His steady, consistently clutch play was instrumental as the Penguins won back-to-back Stanley Cups. He’s outdueled Vezina winner Braden Holtby and a handful of other great goaltenders along the way.

The athletic goaltender with a quick glove and stick has a terrific ability to bounce back from playoff losses. In the game immediately following a postseason loss, Murray is a stellar 7-1 in his career. A short memory always benefits goaltenders and Murray is showing why. His resilience inspires his teammates and coaches.

Matt Murray and Vernon Fiddler (Bruce Bennett Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports)

“He’s a mentally tough kid. He’s a real resilient kid. He doesn’t let any of the outside noise, or if he thought he should have had one of the goals, he doesn’t let that stuff affect him,” said Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan.

Mike Sullivan

Mike Sullivan (Don Wright-USA TODAY Sports)

“He has the ability to move by that stuff. Usually, that’s a certain maturity in a player’s game, regardless of the position. 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.”

Murray is the first goalie in NHL history to win the Stanley Cup in each of his first two seasons. In a total of 32 playoff games, he is 22-9 with a 1.95 goals-against average, a .928 save percentage and has four shutouts. And believe it or not, he’s still considered a rookie. But how do Murray’s playoff record and statistics stack up against others?

The 2017 Playoffs

This year, among goalies that appeared in at least five games, Murray posted the best goals-against average and best save percentage, plus he was the only goalie to record three shutouts.

Best GAA and Save Percentage

Matt Murray (with Pittsburgh)  1.70 / .937
Martin Jones (with San Jose)  1.75 / .935
Carey Price (with Montreal)  1.86 / .933
Devan Dubnyk (with Minnesota)  1.86 / .925
Pekka Rinne (with Nashville)  1.96 / .930
Jake Allen (with St. Louis)  1.96 /.935

Interesting note: when looking at the total raw number of shots faced and saves made, Murray was ninth. Pekka Rinne, Craig Anderson, teammate Marc-Andre Fleury, John Gibson and Cam Talbot saw the most rubber fired in their direction.

When calculating how many shots each goalie faced per game, Frederik Andersen (35.2) topped the list, followed by Talbot (33.6), Henrik Lundqvist (32.9), Fleury (32.7) and Tuukka Rask (31.2). Murray was 13th (27.5).

Matt Murray

(Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

The 2016 & 2017 Playoffs

Looking at the past two postseasons, only considering goalies to have played in at least ten games.

This looks at a unique year of stats only (not merging stats from both seasons).

Top Five Goals Against Averages:

Matt Murray (2016-17 with Pittsburgh)  1.70
Braden Holtby (2015-16 with Washington)  1.72
Ben Bishop (2015-16 with Tampa Bay)  1.85
Pekka Rinne (2016-17 with Nashville)  1.96
Jake Allen (2016-17 with St. Louis)  1.96

Top Five Save Percentages:

Braden Holtby (2015-16 with Washington)  .942
Ben Bishop (2015-16 with Tampa Bay)  .939
Matt Murray (2016-17 with Pittsburgh)  .937
Jake Allen (2016-17 with St. Louis)  .935
Pekka Rinne (2016-17 with Nashville)  .930

Martin Jones (in 2015-16 for San Jose) and Matt Murray (in 2016-17 for Pittsburgh) were the only goalies to record three shutouts. Five goaltenders had two shutouts.

This looks at the sum of a goaltender’s stats over the two-year period.

Top Five Goals Against Averages:

Ben Bishop  1.85 in 11 games
Matt Murray  1.95 in 32 games
Jake Allen  2.06 in 16 games
Martin Jones  2.08 in 30 games
Braden Holtby  2.11 in 25 games

Top Five Save Percentages:

Ben Bishop  .939 in 11 games
Jake Allen  .928 in 16 games
Matt Murray  .928 in 32 games
Frederik Andersen  .927 in 11 games
Braden Holtby  .926 in 25 games

An interesting observation here is that Murray’s stats are based on a larger sample size (he played in more games) and thus makes it even more impressive he kept his numbers up. His exceptional play was not a fluke.

Matthew Murray (Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports)

Last 10 NHL Postseasons

Now, let’s look at the past ten postseasons, only considering goalies to have played in at least twenty games.

This looks at a unique year of stats only (not merging stats of all seasons).

Top Five Goals Against Averages:

Jonathon Quick (2011-12 with Los Angeles)  1.41
Henrik Lundqvist (2011-12 with New York Rangers)  1.82
Corey Crawford (2012-13 with Chicago)  1.84
Tuukka Rask (2012-13 with Boston)  1.88
Pekka Rinne (2016-17 with Nashville)  1.96

Murray’s 2015-16 postseason performance ranked 9th overall (2.08). His 2016-17 postseason performance didn’t make the top 20.

Top Five Save Percentages:

Jonathon Quick (2011-12 with Los Angeles)  .946
Tim Thomas (2010-11 with Boston)  .940
Tuukka Rask (2012-13 with Boston)  .940
Marc-Andre Fleury (2007-08 with Pittsburgh)  .933
Corey Crawford (2012-13 with Chicago)  .932

Murray’s 2015-16 postseason performance ranked him 11th overall (.923). His 2016-17 postseason performance didn’t crack the top 20.

This looks at the sum of a goaltender’s stats over the ten-year period.

Top Five Goals Against Averages:

Chris Osgood  1.80 in 42 games
Matt Murray  1.95 in 32 games
Braden Holtby  2.00 in 59 games
Martin Jones  2.01 in 32 games
Tim Thomas  2.08 in 51 games

Top Five Save Percentages:

Tim Thomas  .933 in 51 games
Braden Holtby  .932 in 59 games
Jonas Hiller  .930 in 33 games
Craig Anderson  .929 in 46 games
Tuukka Rask  .928 in 53 games
Matt Murray  .928 in 32 games
Chris Osgood  .928 in 42 games

(Don Wright-USA TODAY Sports)

Modern NHL Playoff History

Now, let’s look at all postseasons (since 1917-18), again only considering goalies to have played in at least twenty games.

This looks at a unique year of stats only (not merging stats of all seasons).

Top Five Goals Against Averages:

Jonathon Quick (2011-12 with Los Angeles)  1.41
Martin Brodeur (1999-00 with New Jersey)  1.61
Jean-Sebastien Giguere (2002-03 with Anaheim)  1.62
Martin Brodeur (2002-03 with New Jersey)  1.65
Martin Brodeur (1994-95 with New Jersey)  1.67
Ed Belfour (1998-99 with Dallas)  1.67

Murray’s 2015-16 postseason landed him 24th on the list.

Top Five Save Percentages:

Jonathon Quick (2011-12 with Los Angeles)  .946
Jean-Sebastien Giguere (2002-03 with Anaheim)  .945
Olie Kolzig (1997-98 with Washington)  .941
Tim Thomas (2010-11 with Boston)  .940
Tuukka Rask (2012-13 with Boston)  .940

Murray’s 2015-16 performance ranked him 25th overall (.923). His 2016-17 performance didn’t crack the top 50.

This looks at the sum of a goaltender’s stats from 1960 to the present (using Murray’s 32 games as the minimum).

Top Five Goals Against Averages:

Patrick Lalime 1.77 in 41 games
Matt Murray  1.95 in 32 games
Braden Holtby  2.00 in 59 games
Martin Jones  2.01 in 32 games
Dominik Hasek 2.02 119 games
Martin Brodeur  2.02 in 205 games

Top Five Save Percentages:

Tim Thomas  .933 in 51 games
Johnny Bower .932 in 52 games
Braden Holtby  .932 in 59 games
Jonas Hiller  .930 in 33 games
Craig Anderson  .929 in 46 games
Tuukka Rask  .928 in 53 games
Matt Murray  .928 in 32 games

Sidney Crosby

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Outlook for Murray

Murray has played spectacularly since being called up to the NHL. With postseason statistics that rate in the top 5 for goals-against and save percentages in the modern era, it’s no wonder he already has two Stanley Cups on his resume. The sky is the limit for the 23-year-old from Thunder Bay, Ontario.



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