Penguins goalie Matt Murray to back up Casey DeSmith in first game back from concussion
MONTREAL — Matt Murray has been cleared to return to the lineup, but he’ll back up Casey DeSmith when the Pittsburgh Penguins visit the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.
Murray has been out since Monday with a concussion. DeSmith started in his place Thursday night against the Vegas Golden Knights and turned in an impressive 35-save performance in a 4-2 Penguins victory.
“I think it makes a lot of sense for a lot of reasons,” coach Mike Sullivan said, explaining why DeSmith was getting the start. “No. 1, he was very good and is deserving of the start. Our coaching staff feels it’s the right decision for a lot of reasons.”
One of those reasons is Sullivan’s belief that a game watching from the bench can help make an injured goalie’s return to the lineup more seamless.
“When you see the game up close on the bench, it’s a whole different game than it is from the press box,” Sullivan said. “Things happen a whole lot faster. It’s just one step in the process that we think prepares our goalies to be successful when they do step back in the lineup.”
Sullivan said he is not surprised Murray recovered in less than a week from the third concussion of his four-year NHL career.
“It’s really hard to compare one concussion to the next,” Sullivan said. “The nature of that injury is that they’re all very different. Some guys recover extremely quick. Other times, it lingers. It depends on how it occurs. There’s so many things associated with it. It’s very difficult to predict.
“We’ve got a very good medical staff and a group of team doctors that have the health of our players first and foremost in mind when they make these types of decisions.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jonathan at [email protected] or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.