Home ice brings out best in Penguins goaltender Matt Murray |

Home ice brings out best in Penguins goaltender Matt Murray

Jonathan Bombulie
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Penguins goaltender Matt Murray makes a save on the Jets' Brandon Tanev in the second period Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2017, at PPG Paints Arena.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Canucks goaltender Anders Nilsson stops the Penguins' Patric Hornqvist from going five hole in the first period Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017 at PPG Paints Arena.

Ever since he became an NHL regular in March 2016, Penguins goalie Matt Murray has been practically unbeatable at home.

Coming into Wednesday night’s game with Vancouver, he was 27-5-4 in the regular season and 13-2 in the playoffs within the confines of PPG Paints Arena.

It’s a spectacular record, but it’s not something Murray finds all that flattering. He would rather be known as a goalie who excels in any situation.

“I try to compete 100 percent no matter what,” Murray said.

He actually finds his splits a bit surprising because he feels like he plays a feistier game on the road, where he is 25-12-2 in the regular season and 9-7 in the playoffs in his NHL career.

“Honestly, I think I play with a little bit more grit, maybe,” Murray said. “Not intensity. I’m always pretty intense. But especially in a tough building on the road, you always want to put everybody in their place and play a solid game.”

An impressive home record is not a new phenomenon in Murray’s career.

In his AHL days, he was slightly better in Wilkes-Barre (22-9-1) than elsewhere (23-11-3).

In juniors with Sault Ste. Marie of the Ontario Hockey League, the difference was stark. He was 50-22-6 at home and 29-38-8 on the road.

Murray wasn’t necessarily surprised by that last set of numbers, though. For one thing, Sault Ste. Marie was a difficult bus trip for most OHL teams. More importantly, junior hockey can be unpredictable.

“Junior is a completely different animal,” Murray said. “You’re playing 15-year-olds to 19-year-olds. Obviously, kids are a lot more comfortable at home. Junior, in general, is really an absolutely crapshoot for goalies and scoring chances and all that. It’s just a disaster.”

While Murray doesn’t think there are any deep kernels of truth about his game hidden in his home-road splits, he also doesn’t deny the obvious. For a goalie, playing at home is a little more comfortable than playing on the road.

“Sometimes a rink has a certain advantage that some teams are used to, like the boards in Detroit. In Ottawa, it’s kind of similar and they use that bank play a lot,” Murray said. “When you play at home, you’re going to get more of a feel for the rink. I’m sure there are a couple of small advantages, but at the end of the day, you play the same way.”

Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter at @BombulieTrib.

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