When goalie Matt Murray traveled back to Thunder Bay at the end of last season, he headed home for the summer without a Stanley Cup championship for the first time in his NHL career.
The experience didn’t change Murray’s goals for the offseason.
“You never really want to get any worse in the summer,” Murray said. “You want to get better at everything all the time.”
It may have, however, changed the fire with which Murray pursued his annual quest for self-improvement.
He watched two other teams competing for hockey’s most cherished trophy, and frankly, he didn’t like it.
“You’ve got to use those emotions in a positive way,” Murray said. “If you’re able to harness that and use it in a proper way, I think it can be beneficial for you. I try to do that for sure, use that extra time and those emotions of not being there in the finals to try to fuel my work ethic, I guess.”
Playoff results aside, Murray is coming off the most trying season of his young professional career. From a couple of significant injuries to the death of his father, adversity was an almost constant companion.
The contemplative Murray would obviously assess his own performance in a more nuanced manner, but his overall stats tell the story fairly well. A save percentage of .907 in the regular season and .908 in the playoffs aren’t exactly what he’s looking for.
He’s banking on the work he did in the offseason to help turn things back around.
“Having a little bit of extra time gave me a good opportunity to step back and really look at my game objectively and realize when it’s not where it needs to be,” Murray said. “Just working on honestly everything, trying to become a better, more well-rounded goaltender in every aspect.
“Getting a chance to step back and really watch a lot of video and stuff like that, looking at it objectively, I got to notice certain things that really needed work.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan at [email protected] or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.