The Pittsburgh Penguins played a meaningless game on Saturday against the Philadelphia Flyers. Sidney Crosby and Kris Letang were rightly kept out of the game to avoid the risk of injury.
Penguins’ Coach Mike Sullivan decided to play goalie Matt Murray rather than sit him in favor of Jeff Zatkoff who normally sits third on the depth chart.
The result was a possible concussion that ended Murray’s night prematurely. So one question is on the mind of nearly every Penguins’ fan.
Why on earth was Murray playing anyway?
I am not going to lie to you, I was in no way opposed to Sullivan’s decision to play Murray. My rationalization was this. Operating on the theory that Marc-Andre Fleury would (hopefully) be ready for the start of the playoffs, one would assume that Murray would see limited time going forward. A 21-year-old netminder needs every moment of playing time that he can get, especially if he needs to be ready to play in the playoffs on a moment’s notice.
That’s my take on the situation. Sullivan took a gamble, that I endorsed, and he lost.
Coach Sullivan on Matt Murray: “We don’t really have an update. For precautionary reasons, it makes sense for us to keep him out.”
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 9, 2016
Playing Murray was a risk. A risk that would have had a worthwhile payoff in the end. But the worst case scenario played out, and the netminder was hurt.
If you followed the situation on Twitter, you know that many people made their opinions loud and clear about the decision. The thing of it is that there is no right or wrong answer in this instance. There is only opinion, and the only one that is fully educated, and has an impact on the lineup is Sullivan’s.
It is easy to look back and say that he shouldn’t have played Murray. He probably shouldn’t have as they did have options. There were a few other players that could have stood the rest like Chris Kunitz, but you can only sit so many skaters. Zatkoff was there to spell Murray, but again, it was a risk versus reward situation.
Sullivan on Murray’s status & on his decision to start the rookie… pic.twitter.com/1aBCrYKhJv
— Bill West (@BWest_Trib) April 9, 2016
We now know, painfully well, that it wasn’t worth it.
Hopefully for Murray’s sake he is alright. When it comes to head injuries, or any injury, the person comes first and hockey last. Fingers crossed that Murray and Fleury are both healthy for the next game in Pittsburgh.
Tom Sestito Proves People Right
In a recent article I had a bit of a rant about Tom Wilson’s dirty hit on Nick Bonino. Now I am going to rant about Sestito’s hit on the Flyers Ryan White.
— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) April 9, 2016
Sestito’s hit was a blind side, lunging hit that has no place in the league. His role in the NHL is to provide “physical intimidation”. That is an antiquated thought process that the hockey world needs to move away from.
I made similar statements on Twitter, and was met with multiple people pointing out that the Flyers, and Capitals got away with similar plays.
It doesn’t matter.
If a hit comes from the Capitals, Flyers, Blue Jackets, Penguins, or the Wheeling Nailers, it does not matter. It’s dirty and needs to be removed from the game yesterday.
I grew up playing ice hockey in Pittsburgh in the 90’s. Rather than trying to emulate Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr, there were many children trying to throw hip checks like Darius Kasparaitis.
There are kids watching this stuff go on. Let’s show the next generation of hockey to play the game with skill, rather than brutality.
So, with all of that being said. Let’s get ready for some quality playoff hockey.
Until next time.
Greg is a Pittsburgh Penguins writer for ‘The Hockey Writers’.
He is a Pittsburgh area native who has written for multiple Penguins news and opinion sites. In addition to hockey writing, he is also an experienced YouTube creator.
Greg started with THW in 2015 as a Blue Jackets writer, and spent time as a Fantasy Hockey analyst.