Pens turn to DeSmith with Murray injured

Casey DeSmith sat down with goaltending coach Mike Buckley to look at the Pens’ October schedule to figure out when he might play his first game of the regular season.

With the scarcity of games during the month, it looked like it would be some time.

“I was talking to ‘Buck’ and trying to piece together when I might get a game, two weeks from now or whatever,” DeSmith said. “It was a really light schedule. We didn’t really have a game in mind. It was just spend October and get things in order and be able to feel great about my game whenever the time comes.”

But life changes quickly.

As DeSmith, 27, said next: “The time comes Thursday.”

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Following the announcement that starting goaltender Matt Murray was diagnosed with a concussion the Pens turn to DeSmith, who will start Thursday night Wholesale nhl jerseys
when Pittsburgh hosts Vegas at PPG Paints Arena.

“I’ve been having really good practices lately. I felt good out there,” DeSmith said. “I got all the new gear broken in so that always good. Beginning the year is always rough in that way for me. Everything is coming together for me.”

“Obviously, never like seeing (Murray) go down,” DeSmith added.

Murray suffered the concussion, the third of his pro career, at Monday’s practice.

“Matt came to us after practice,” head coach Mike Sullivan said. “Our plan is we’ll take it each day as it comes. But it’s something I have to obviously have a conversation with (general manager) Jim Rutherford after I meet with (the media).”

DeSmith made his NHL debut during the 2017-18 season, appearing in 14 games. He posted a 6-4-1 record with a 2.40 goals-against average and .921 save percentage. DeSmith’s GAA and save percentage led the Pens on the year.

That season went a long way with convincing DeSmith that he deserved to be in the NHL.

“Most goalies come into the league and maybe in their minds there is a little bit of a question mark,” DeSmith said. “You’ve never played at this high of a level, best of the best players out there. So getting 14 games, getting a lot of experience and having success was really important for me confidence-wise and having that belief in myself that I belong here.”

Goaltender Tristan Jarry, who suffered a lower-body injury during training camp, had been assigned to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League with an injured non-roster designation. Jarry, 23, told the Times Leader that he is 100-percent healthy and ready to play.

DeSmith and Jarry battled for the backup position throughout training camp, and now the duo will handle the load in Murray’s absence.

“They’re good goalies,” Sullivan said. “We believe in these guys. They’re young guys, but their body of work last year was certainly strong. They won games for us. We believe these guys can make the type of saves for us to help us win. At times like these where we’ve got to rely on our depth, I think both Casey and Tristan have shown that they’re NHL caliber goalies.”

DeSmith and Jarry were a terrific duo with WBS. They teamed up to win the Harry “Hap” Holmes Award in 2016-17 for the AHL team that surrenders the fewest goals on the year.

Both DeSmith and Jarry saw action last season when Murray missed time for various ailments. Now, they’ll have to do it again for the foreseeable future until Murray is healthy.

“I am definitely more happy with how I am playing now,” DeSmith said. “I feel a lot better now than I felt in camp. That’s always a good sign.”

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