Matt Murray surprises fans by returning to practice after his injury early in the season.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have found little luck in the availability of their goaltenders this season. The Leafs were not expecting the beginning of the season that they have had, especially after acquiring the former Pittsburgh Penguin and Ottawa Senator Matt Murray in July 2022. An exciting new member for the team yet Murray was out after only one game.
Now there is a possibility Murray could be back on the ice for Saturday’s game against Los Angeles Kings.
Murray, the team’s main goaltender, tore his groin only three days after their first season game on Oct, 12. 2022 against the Montreal Canadiens. With an estimated four-week healing period, Murray is slightly ahead of schedule as he returned to practice yesterday on Nov, 9. 2021.
Despite Murray’s original groin injury, which occurred only three hours before the Oct, 15. 2022 game against the senators, he is excited to be on the ice again.
“I felt great. Right now it is a day-to-day type of thing. We’ll see how I feel and keep testing it,” said Murray after his practice at the Ford Performance Centre.
The excitement around Matt Murray, returning and breaking the seaming goalie injury curse is shared by head coach Sheldon Keefe, as he talked about Murray’s healing process. He still has his hesitations about placing the player back in the net too early.
“He is trending in the right direction,” Keefe said.
Keefe expressed his excitement for Murray, the two-time Stanley Cup winner with Pittsburgh, to get back into the net yet he has no hard plans to have Murray play any set game. Keefe explained his overall hesitation due to the injury.
“I thought he looked good. I thought he took a step in terms of the quality of the work he was able to get in today versus yesterday, which is a positive progression…In terms of what the plan is going forward, it is just to give him another day tomorrow and just continue to see how he responds,” said Keefe
Keefe’s hesitation is not unjustified as two of the team’s goaltenders have been out due to injuries.
Both Matt Murray and other top goaltender Ilya Samsonov fell victim to the seaming goalie curse this season. Samsonov ended up following in Murray’s footsteps, as on Saturday, Nov, 5th during the game against the Boston Bruins. He succumbed to a knee injury during the third period. These injuries led to the second goalie for the team being out for at least four weeks.
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Beating the odds though is third-string goaltender Erik Kallgren.
Kallgren came into the picture after Samsonov’s injury on the 5th. Currently, his sole win was on Sunday, November sixth with an intricate game against the Carolina Hurricanes. Despite the Maple Leafs losing to the Vegas Golden Knights, Kallgren has found favour within the community as many of the issues have not been with the goalies but their other teammate’s performances
Kallgren is keeping his head high as well even through the losses.
“You can’t let your confidence be affected by it. You have to refocus quickly after every game. That is what I am doing here.” said Kallgren.
It is yet to be determined what will happen to the third-choice goaltender now that Matt Murray is back at practice. There has been no confirmation yet in regards to Murray playing in Saturday’s game against the Los Angeles Kings, and the Leafs may look to get the goalie more acclimated to ice time again before bringing him back into the goalie rotation.
Murray was a strong competitor during his time with the Penguins yet fell somewhat flat with the Senators. Both injuries and an incapability to keep pace hold him back from the impressive expectation he has set for himself.
Only time will tell how Matt Murray regains his strength and comes into his own with the Toronto team.
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