With Matt Murray injured, Penguins turn to Tristan Jarry, recall Casey DeSmith to be backup
Tristan Jarry, the net is yours.
Jarry, a 22-year-old with five NHL games to his credit, will be the Penguins’ No. 1 goalie for the foreseeable future after coach Mike Sullivan said Tuesday that Matt Murray would be out on a “week-to-week” basis because of a lower-body injury suffered in a game against the Flyers the night before.
The Penguins placed Murray on the injured reserve list and called up 26-year-old rookie Casey DeSmith from Wilkes-Barre to complete the team’s goaltending tandem.
Coach Sullivan on Murray: “Matt is week-to-week with a lower-body injury.” pic.twitter.com/1x4NoKj8O6
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) November 28, 2017
DeSmith has one NHL appearance on his career ledger, stopping 12 of 15 shots in relief of Murray during an Oct. 29 game at Winnipeg.
Despite the obvious lack of experience at the position, general manager Jim Rutherford said he would prefer to monitor the situation before deciding if he needs to acquire a veteran goaltender.
“We’ll keep an eye on that,” Rutherford said. “One of the things that I had to answer earlier in the year was, ‘What are we doing with the development of Jarry, making sure he plays enough games?’ We don’t have to ask that question anymore.
“Tristan has played some good games for us. DeSmith has played terrific in Wilkes-Barre. Right now we’ve got two young goalies that haven’t played a lot of NHL games. We’ll see where that goes.”
Rutherford said it wouldn’t be particularly difficult to trade for a goaltender to beef up organizational depth, but in most cases, a GM gets what he pays for.
“There are guys we could get, but there’s no guarantees that they’re going to be able to do the job,” Rutherford said. “They are in the situations they are in now and possibly available for a reason.”
In terms of pedigree, dressing a goaltending tandem of Jarry and DeSmith shouldn’t necessarily sound alarm bells for the Penguins.
DeSmith is 32-9-2 with a .926 save percentage in his AHL career.
Jarry has been a standout at every level he’s played. In juniors, he won a Memorial Cup with the Edmonton Oil Kings. In Wilkes-Barre, he was an AHL all-star.
In limited NHL action this season, Jarry is 2-0-2 with a .907 save percentage, which is slightly better than Murray’s season mark of .906.
In the past, when Murray has been injured, the Penguins had the luxury of turning to Marc-Andre Fleury to carry the load. Jarry is no Fleury, of course, but he also is not a slouch, and the more he plays at the top level, the more comfortable he’ll get.
“I think that comes with being there every day and being able to face the shooters that are here and being able to practice with the guys,” Jarry said. “I think that’s something that comes naturally. As I’m here every day, I just get better and better.”
Murray, meanwhile, is out with his fourth significant injury since he became an NHL regular in March 2016.
In the 2015-16 regular-season finale, he suffered a concussion when he was kneed in the head by Philadelphia’s Brayden Schenn and missed the first two games of the playoffs.
Murray broke his hand while playing in the World Cup of Hockey before the start of last season and didn’t make his regular-season debut until Nov. 9, missing nine games.
During warm-ups before last year’s postseason opener, he tore his hamstring and missed the first two rounds of the playoffs.
Sullivan said he does not have long-term concerns about Murray’s durability, even though the 6-foot-4, 178-pound goaltender does not have the ideal frame to handle physical punishment.
“Injuries are part of the game,” Sullivan said. “Matt’s a young guy. He’s only going to get stronger. He’s only going to get more durable with each game that he plays. I think he’ll be fine. We don’t concern ourselves with it.”
Jonathan Bombulie is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @BombulieTrib.