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Brodeur: Murray 'really calm' in crease

Penguins rookie analyzed by former NHL goalies ahead of series against Capitals

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

Three former NHL goalies were asked the same question: What conclusions can you draw about Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray after watching him at the end of the regular season and through three starts in the Stanley Cup Playoffs?

All three had a variation of the same answer.

"For a 21-year-old, he is pretty calm," Martin Biron said. "Even in Game 3, you're playing in New York, Madison Square Garden, against Henrik Lundqvist and he's like, 'No big deal.'"

"I saw a kid that has a lot of composure," added Martin Brodeur.

"He has mental toughness that is probably hard to find in young goaltenders," Brian Boucher said. "That's something that takes a lot of time to be able to craft."

Calmness. Composure. Mental toughness. Those are indeed qualities Murray showed in Games 3, 4 and 5 against the New York Rangers in the Eastern Conference First Round. He made 85 saves on 89 shots, including 31 in a 5-0 road win in Game 4.

They are the same traits Murray showed with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League last season, his first as a pro, when 12 of his 25 wins were shutouts, including four in a row, part of an AHL-record 304:11 shutout streak.

"I don't care how good your team is defensively, the fact that you're able to as a young guy really lock things down, game in and game out, and post that many shutouts, it says a lot about his focus," Boucher said. "His focus is tremendous."

Video: NYR@PIT, Gm5: Murray denies Diaz's shot

It will be tested now. Murray will be tested now.

As good as Murray was in winning three straight in the first round, even the Rangers admit they didn't test him enough with traffic in front of the net to create multiple chances off of the same sequence.

The Washington Capitals probably will in the Eastern Conference Second Round. Game 1 is at Verizon Center on Thursday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TVA Sports). Murray is expected to get the start with Marc-Andre Fleury still out with concussion symptoms.

"Not that the Rangers were not a threat, but I don't think they really got anywhere near the action or the desired chances they needed against him," Biron said. "Washington is a whole other story."

Biron even said he thinks the Penguins are going to need Fleury back to win the Stanley Cup this season. He likes Murray, but, as of now, he finds it hard to believe he can take them all the way.

"It's no knock on Murray, but it's just like last year, when [Scott] Darling took over and played well [for the Chicago Blackhawks]," Biron said. "Everybody said, 'Great, but they need Corey Crawford if they want to win the Cup.' I think it's the same case in Pittsburgh."

Even saying that, Biron, like Boucher and Brodeur, couldn't honestly say they expect Murray to be overwhelmed by the Capitals or the moment. Although it's a small sample size, they haven't seen anything from him yet to suggest he'll be anything but calm, composed and mentally tough.

Biron and Boucher each mentioned that they've been impressed with how good Murray appears to be at forgetting about a goal he allows and moving on to the next save.

"It's like nothing happened," Biron said. 

Boucher referenced Murray's body language, and how it always seems to be on point, even after allowing a goal such as the one he gave up to Rick Nash 62 seconds into Game 5 against the Rangers. 

"As a teammate, if you're around a guy for a period of time, call it a month, you can start to see which guys mentally have it and which guys don't," Boucher said. "Clearly, there is a belief in him as a goaltender from their team standpoint because they fall behind and they just continue to battle and get it back for him."

Video: PIT@NYR, Gm4: Murray makes unbelievable save on Staal

New Jersey Devils coach John Hynes said he saw the same thing last season when coaching Murray in the AHL. Hynes said Murray's teammates battled for him, particularly during his shutout streak, because they wanted it as badly as he did.

"There is a professionalism about him, but there's also a personality and demeanor that I think is endearing to coaches, management and teammates," Hynes said. "He's someone people want to play for and be around."

In his quick study of Murray, Brodeur noticed how well the Penguins rookie handles himself in the crease.

"It doesn't look like he gets himself out of the play," Brodeur said. "He's really calm. He doesn't overplay anything or try to do too much. He's not overly challenging. I think he relies a lot on his size and his strength with his legs and pushing across, but he stays composed. It also looks like he doesn't create holes and when he moves across he's really stingy as far as sealing the bottom of the net." 

Brodeur referenced Murray's rebound control and how it looks to be solid, from what he's seen.

"But I don't know how much he got challenged by New York as far as traffic and those surges," Brodeur said. "He's going to get tested now."

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