Dunlap: Murray Most Important Player To Pens

Colin Dunlap
March 14, 2018 - 1:26 pm
Matt Murray

Charles LeClaire - USA Today Sports

There is Sid and Geno. Of Course. There are always those guys --- those two have made the current incarnation of this franchise. Simply, they are the Penguins.

There is Kris --- Kristopher if you’re Pierre --- Letang. His brilliance on the blue line, when his game is on, is something to see. And what does he play? Something like 47 minutes a night once the playoffs hit?

There is Phil the Thrill. Man, has Mr. Kessel been dominant at times this season. Same with Patric Hornqvist. The Penguins find him irreplaceable and someone they simply cannot do without.

There is Brassard and there is Sheahan; there is Schultz and the ever-so-steady and steps-up-in-the-playoffs Brian Dumoulin.

There are, to be sure, a cast of others. There’s Mike Sullivan and Jim Rutherford, too. Those men have formed quite a brain trust.  

All of these aforementioned men are important. The Pittsburgh Penguins, as the regular season has wound down to the final dozen games with the impending playoffs on the horizon, could be bolstered by any of them.

But you know who unequivocally, unambiguously, decidedly and without question the most important Penguin will be from here on out? Matt Murray. You want to know something else? It isn’t even close. He’s the most important member of this franchise --- this season --- by about 100 miles. Make that 1,000 miles. Or more. 

That’s why Murray’s current state, as he continues to fight back from a concussion sustained a couple weeks ago, is by far the most important issue facing this team that is attempting to pull in a third straight Stanley Cup.

It isn’t how they will perform on the blue line. It isn’t some juggling of lines or the ever-present “who will play on Sid’s wing” but by a landslide the questions have to fall right onto Murray.

In this town especially (see: Sid) we understand the debilitating and long-lasting impact that a concussion can have. We also know that you can be fine one minute and seemingly on the cusp of playing (or even play a game or two) and then be shelved thereafter with a recurrence of the concussion symptoms.

For the Penguins’ sake, this cannot happen to Murray. Here’s hoping once he gets through this thing --- hopefully in the next few days --- it is gone for good. Because, and this isn’t a knock on either Tristan Jarry or Casey DeSmith, but the franchise isn’t winning a Stanley Cup right now with one of those gentlemen being the primary man in net. Maybe in the future, but not now. I really don't think either is ready to push a team through a deep playoff run. 

In the past, there was Marc-Andre Fleury there for the Penguins and we all know the brilliant combination he formed with Murray. Both of them, not just one, are the reason there are couple banners inside the new Igloo.

All that said, no matter who you name right now; it could be Sid or Geno or Kessel or Letang, it really all becomes a backseat issue. In a sense, any of those guys can --- in some way --- be replaced and the Penguins would have at least a fighting chance. 

If there’s no Murray, there’s no chance. He’s indispensable. He’s required. He’s got to be the guy if there’s any hope of a threepeat.