The puck has officially dropped on the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and for the first time since 2006, Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins are on the outside looking in. The Penguins, of course, dropped their best of five Qualifying Series against the Montreal Canadiens last week in stunning fashion. As a result, the Penguins snap a 13 season streak of post-season play. To many, this signals the end of an era for the team. An era highlighted by three Stanley Cup championships and some MVP calibre seasons from Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
So... what next?
Well, according to Penguins GM Jim Rutherford big changes are coming.
Check out this ominous quote from Rutherford's press conference earlier today:
Fire up the rumor mill!
Look, Sid and Geno aren't going anywhere. It's unlikely that Kris Letang, John Marino or Jake Guentzel go anywhere either, but everyone else is up for grabs. One thing that's clear though, one of Matt Murray or Tristan Jarry has to go. One of Justin Schultz or Jack Johnson has to go. Jason Zucker, Patric Hornqvist, Bryan Rust, Conor Sheary, Brian Dumoulin though... let 'er rip.
Both Murray and Jarry are pending restricted free agents and it's pretty clear that the team won't bring both goaltenders back to play the 1A/1B tandem again. It may have worked for awhile with Murray and former Pens netminder Marc Andre Fleury, but it's not having the same effect with Murray and Jarry. The younger Jarry outplayed and outperformed Murray for most of the season and ended up establishing himself as the team's most reliable option heading into the Qualifying Series. Still though, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan ended up tabbing Murray as his starting goaltender against the Canadiens. By the time he turned to Jarry, it was too little, too late. Rutherford likely won't allow Sullivan to make the same mistake in 2020-21. My bet is that Murray has played his final game for the Penguins franchise.
Schultz is a pending free agent and has likely played his last game for the team as well and Rutherford didn't hesitate to throw him under the bus on his way out.
Check out this particularly prickly quote from Rutherford:
Get ready for it, Pens fans. GMJR is not happy and big changes are coming.