Penguins Matt Murray Out After Breaking Hand at World Cup
The Pittsburgh Penguins announced Saturday that Stanley Cup-winning goaltender Matt Murray would miss three to six weeks after breaking his hand while playing for Team North America at the World Cup of Hockey, opening the door for Marc-Andre Fleury to reclaim the No.1 job he lost to a concussion at the start of last year’s playoff run.
The injury also helps explain how the normally unflappable Murray gave up four goals on four consecutive shots before being pulled from the second period of a 4-3 loss to Team Russia. All four goals, including one that squeezed under the blocker, came shortly after Murray was injured and while the 22-year-old said a day later that the injury wasn’t a factor in the goals, he admitted to reporters right after the game that it had bothered him.
Murray told NHL.com he jammed his thumb diving across the crease to make a save and said the following day he “wasn’t too worried” about it:
“I’ve done it a bunch of times. It’s something that happens a lot. It’s a quick game out there. Sometimes there’s little injuries, little aches and pains, but nothing major at all. … It was diving across the net, trying to make a save and I just landed on it funny. Just jammed it.”
Murray even practiced after the injury, taking part in full drill, working on his puck handling and reportedly squeezing a water bottle with the injured blocker hand without a problem. He didn’t dress for Team North America’s final game, however, and will now be out until at least the first week of the regular season and could miss as many as 12 regular season games.
That raises questions about the medical evaluation while Murray was with Team North America and opens the door for Fleury, who was arguably the Penguins best player early last season before a concussion knocked him out of the lineup. That cleared the way for Murray, a second-year pro who was the American Hockey League Goalie of the Year as a rookie, to backstop Pittsburgh to the Stanley Cup with a .923 save percentage after posting a .930 in 13 regular season games.
As for the recovery process and potentially playing through the pain of a broken bone on the blocker hand, Murray can take notes from Minnesota Wild No.1 Devan Dubnyk, who had the index finger broken by a shot in the morning skate before the first game of the playoffs.
“It was very, very painful,” Dubnyk told InGoal Magazine this summer. “Any puck that touched my stick, or any part of my hand really was just absolutely miserable but once it came game time you don’t think about it, you just go do it.”
The biggest adjustment for Dubnyk was practice time.
“More than anything it changed the days between and pre-game skate was tough,” he said. “You don’t really go out there and go through your same routine because every time I hit the ice I was scared to touch the puck with my stick or right hand. So you are not going through the same repetitions and same thought process as you normally would getting ready to play if every time a guy crosses the blue line all I was thinking about was ‘please don’t shoot it at my right hand.’ And then guys wouldn’t shoot there so you get an entire practice of guys shooting at your glove, which doesn’t really help either. I mean it’s great for catching pucks but not realistic.”
Dubnyk, who broke a small piece of bone off at the middle knuckle, was advised to let it heal on its own during the offseason and while he doesn’t have much range of motion still, it didn’t negatively affect his summer routine. The challenge for Murray may be balancing a desire to get back sooner with the bad habits that could result from the problems Dubnyk listed.