McKenna Match of the Day: March 18 – Matt Murray vs. Mads Sogaard

Former NHL goaltender Mike McKenna gives his Daily face-to-face Start of the goalkeeper game of the day for Saturday. March 18, 2023:

Why I love this game:

Neither goalie has had a save percentage over 90% in their last five games played. So which one will bounce back? Murray still has a chance to grab the Maple Leafs net for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. And Sogaard is trying to prove he belongs in the NHL. Lots of motivation to go around tonight’s game.

To monitor :

Whether Murray’s conceded goals look good or bad, the simple fact is that he hasn’t stopped as many goals as his goalkeeping partner, Ilya Samsonov. Since Jan. 1, Murray has an .870 save percentage and has won just three of eight starts. Compare that to Samsonov, who is 13-5-43 over the same span with a .916 save percentage. Murray has allowed exactly four goals in his last four starts.

Granted, Murray has spent a lot of time out of the lineup with injuries. But with the playoffs less than a month away, can the two-time Stanley Cup winner get back into shape? His technical game looked pretty solid, but the pucks always find a way past him. Murray tends to be stiff and robotic: if he can relax, there might still be time to claim the Leafs’ crease.

With regular Senators goaltenders Cam Talbot and Anton Forsberg out injured, Mads Sogaard was tasked with defending the Ottawa net. And it was an uphill battle for the 22-year-old Dane. He has allowed 23 goals in his last five games and has won only once.

At 6ft 7in, Sogaard fills a lot of space. But his skating needs to improve to compete at the NHL level. He was pushed into a difficult position, and without much of a backstop I wonder if this prolonged cameo will hurt Sogaard in the long run. The problem is that Ottawa has no choice but to play him.

What fantasy owners should do:

Two high-scoring teams face off and both keepers have struggled to find saves lately. I wouldn’t start Murray or Sogaard.

Conclusion for Matt Murray:

Hurry up.

Conclusion for Mads Sogaard:

Toronto is playing the second game in a straight series. Early saves will be critical for the Senators goaltender.

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