The Pittsburgh Penguins are the defending Stanley Cup champions and as of Dec. 11 they are tied for the second-most points in the NHL. Is their inconsistency between the poles an issue or is it all good?
Granted, most teams would kill to be in that position, yet everything is not rosy and those inside the organization even acknowledge that.
Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has been a huge part of the Pittsburgh franchise, including being the netminder for the 2009 championship team. Hurt last year, Fleury ended up having a Tony Romo moment before Romo did as young Matt Murray, came in played amazingly. When Fleury was finally healthy, Murray was playing so well, he had to keep playing and he was a large portion of the Penguins fourth Stanley Cup squad.
GM Jim Rutherford kept both goalies, with Fleury the early starter, but his play was inconsistent, so coach Mike Sullivan began alternating the two netminders with mixed results. Murray has been the choice for those making NHL picks at 10-2 with 2.02 goals against average, while Fleury is 8-5 SU, with 3.42 GAA. Now Murray is between the pipes most often.
Maybe like last year, this will work its way out and possibly, Rutherford might deal one, likely the older Fleury (who has a big salary), to strengthen his team for another run at the Cup.
If you are reviewing the NHL odds daily at places like Heritage (A+ rated by the way), you cannot help but notice the Pens are 24th in goals allowed and 28th in killing penalties. It goes without saying is not all on the goaltender, nonetheless, he is the last line of defense.
The Pittsburgh offense has been brilliant, listed 2nd in the league, but we saw this with Dallas last year and they faded in the second round of the playoffs. For serious hockey bettors, this storyline has to be followed closely.