Murray comes up big with five blocks

Penguins defenseman lives up to his nickname with grit, strong play

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Penguins defenseman Douglas Murray's nickname in English, "Crankshaft," might not have an equivalent in his native Swedish.

"Not that I can come up with, no," said Ottawa captain Daniel Alfredsson, a fellow Swede and an opponent in the Penguins' second-round playoff series.

No matter what you call Murray, the Senators certainly got the gist of what he's about in Game 1.

Murray blocked five shots and lived up to his nickname. He proved to be a sturdy, immovable object most of the night in the Penguins' 4-1 win at Consol Energy Center.

He also had an assist, giving him three points in seven playoff games with the Penguins, but that's not his game. His game is being physical and strong in his own end.

To that end, coach Dan Bylsma paired him with another physical defenseman, Deryk Engelland for this game. Murray previously had been paired with Matt Niskanen, and Engelland played in only two games in the first round against the New York Islanders.

"It was great," Murray said of playing with Engelland. "He's very similar to myself. He plays a physical game, a simple game. We make simple plays. He's an easy guy to read off."

The Senators tried to rattle Murray. In particular, pesky forward Chris Neil made several runs at Murray.

Mostly, Neil bounced off of the 6-foot-3, 245-pound defenseman. Neil gives up two inches and 40 pounds to Murray.

Neil almost got the better of Murray when the two were racing for a puck on an icing play in the second period and Neil sent Murray into the end boards.

That left Murray seething, but not because of Neil per se.

"I never know with the rules anymore," Murray said. "They say there's not supposed to be any contact on an icing. The refs say that was just a good battle.

"I wasn't as irritated with [Neil] as I was with the ref. They say now that you can't make any contact on an icing play. Obviously, I protected myself. I didn't get hurt or anything on the play, but they say no physical contact on the icing plays."

Murray didn't seem to let his irritation at that situation affect his game.

He had 10 blocked shots in six games against the Islanders but thinks he'll be able to keep adding to the five he had in Game 1 as the series against Ottawa plays out.

"When the opportunity presents itself, you're always going to do it -- especially me," Murray said. "It's probably one of the things I'm better at."

He found that the Islanders, particularly when they were on the power play, liked to work the puck down low rather than take shots from the outside, making blocks harder to come by.

"There weren't that many opportunities to block shots," Murray said of that series. "I'm not going to be diving all over the place just to get my stats."

He also had 10 hits against the Islanders and one Tuesday night. He's no Nicklas Lidstrom, the retired Detroit star who might represent hockey fans' idea of a Swedish defenseman.

"He's not the typical Swedish player," Alfredsson said. "More of a stay-at-home defenseman, really physical, big body that knows his role and embraces his role. He's not going to get outside of that. He knows what he brings, and he does it well."

Murray has stepped out of his role a bit this postseason, but in a way the Penguins hardly could be upset about that. He had two goals on four shots in the first round, and came out of that round leading all players in the postseason with 50 percent shooting efficiency. His assist on the Penguins' fourth goal against Ottawa, scored by Pascal Dupuis, gave him three points in seven games.

Murray was one of the Penguins' acquisitions around the NHL trade deadline. They got him from San Jose on March 25 in exchange for 2013 and 2014 second-round draft picks.

The Sharks for several seasons developed a reputation of having a great regular season followed by a postseason that fell short of expectations.

Murray isn't looking for that to happen with his new club.

"The goal here is to win the Stanley Cup, but you can't look ahead to that," he said.

"I've been in the postseason plenty of times. Skill doesn't give you anything for free. You've got to play in the moment."

And those moments could be a little tough for the Senators.

penguins

For more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus. Shelly Anderson: shanderson@post-gazette.com and Twitter @pgshelly.


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