Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry prepares for stiff tests ahead
The Tristan Jarry experiment — handing the reins of a championship team to a 22-year-old rookie goaltender and seeing what happens — has been an unqualified success so far for the Penguins.
Since Matt Murray went down last Monday with a lower-body injury that's expected to keep him sidelined two to three weeks, Jarry is 3-0 with a .961 save percentage.
The only goalie who had a better week is Montreal's Carey Price, the consensus No. 1 goaltender in the world, and his save percentage was only .950 while going 4-0 during that time frame.
The tests, however, are about to get much tougher.
Jarry's big week came against Philadelphia and Buffalo. The Flyers have lost 10 in a row, and the Sabres have dropped 11 of their last 12.
Starting Tuesday night, the Penguins will play home games every other day against the New York Rangers, New York Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Rangers and Islanders are 7-3 in their last 10 games. The Leafs are 6-3-1 in their last 10.
Jarry doesn't seem to be fazed by the upcoming step up in class for a couple of reasons.
First, it's not like he's never faced playoff-caliber teams before. His first three NHL games this season were against Calgary, Nashville and Tampa Bay, and he got at least one standings point in all three meetings, going 1-0-2.
Second, his entire mental game seems to be built to survive situations just like this one.
For example, while he knows Auston Matthews has a more dangerous shot than the third-line left wing for the Binghamton Devils, Jarry feels it's in his best interests to treat each opponent as equally dangerous.
“You obviously want (a scouting report). It helps with knowing the players and knowing that their tendencies are and what they like to do,” Jarry said after practice Monday morning at PPG Paints Arena. “But going in, confidence-wise, I think that's a mindset I always want to have the same. I want to have the same confidence and the same demeanor every game.”
Jarry knows the Rangers have a more talented power play than the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, for instance, but when it comes right down to it, how different are they really?
“I don't think it's too big of a difference,” Jarry said. “Obviously, the puck moving is a lot quicker and the decision making is a little bit quicker, but they're still trying to accomplish the same things. They're both trying to get pucks to the net. They're both trying to create plays to get that chance.”
The tests of Jarry's philosophy will come fast and furious throughout the next week. His only goal is to be able to say he's better coming out of the Metropolitan Division gauntlet than he was going in.
“That's been my mindset since I got in the organization with Pittsburgh,” Jarry said. “I think that's something they want me to improve on. They want me to get better and better every year. I think I've just started with small steps by taking each day day by day and improve on little things and tweak the things you might need to make the next level.”
Notes: The Penguins practiced Monday with the same line combinations and defense pairs as they used against Buffalo over the weekend. Evgeni Malkin, back from a four-game injury absence, is centering the second line. Ian Cole remains among the top six defensemen, paired with Justin Schultz. … How tight are the Metropolitan Division standings? Coming into Monday night, the top six teams were separated by five points with each team one point behind the team ahead of it.