Marc-Andre Fleury has recovered from his concussion and is scheduled to start tonight against the New York Islanders.
Now here are some numbers you might not believe. It’s a comparison of Fleury before the concussion this season to Jeff Zatkoff and Matt Murray during his nine-game absence. The stats are almost identical.
Not saying Fleury isn’t valuable. He obviously is. Look at the difference in win-loss record when he’s been out. Just saying Zatkoff and especially Murray performed well when called upon.
Some fans might be upset that Murray was sent down instead of Zatkoff, but this is an all-time no-brainer when it comes to making sure a young kid keeps playing to keep his development on the right path.
Murray will play two or three times a week in Wilkes-Barre. He’d play two or three times a month behind Fleury. That’s no schedule for a 21-year-old goalie.
— In other lineup news, Ian Cole will play after missing the last two periods of the Detroit game with an undisclosed injury. The morning skate lineup looked like this:
Extras: Wilson, Warsofsky
— There’s a glaring matchup that could make all the difference in tonight’s game: the Islanders penalty kill against the Penguins power play.
The Islanders have the second-best PK in the league (87.3 percent). The Penguins have been hot lately, going 7 for 19 (36.8 percent) in their last six games.
Here’s what coach Mike Sullivan had to say about it:
“They play well together as a unit and they’re very aggressive. Especially in zone, they’re going to make our guys work for puck possession, be close to one another to support the puck to try to beat their pressure. When you look at some of the better penalty kills in the league, they have that aspect of their game. When they do apply pressure, it’s cooperative pressure as a group and it’s hard to beat sometimes. I think they’ve got some players, like a Frans Nielsen for example, that’s quick, that skates well. He’s got a good stick. Their skill sets lend to being a good penalty killer. For me, the one thing that jumps out watching them is just their aggression. We’ve got to be ready to handle the pressure if we’re going to continue to have success.”
— People have asked me why Kevin Porter is getting playing time over Wilson, Plotnikov or some other potential Wilkes-Barre call-up like Dominik Simon.
The answer is penalty killing and this stat paints that picture. Porter has 32:27 of four-on-five ice time this season. The team hasn’t given up a goal while he’s been on the ice.
Here’s a list of every NHL player this season with at least 20 minutes of four-on-five ice time who has not been on the ice for a power-play goal against.
More after the game. Bye for now,