The young and talented Team North America is set to face Group B leader Sweden today, but they will do so without their starting goaltender. Penguins playoff hero Matt Murray was injured in the team’s last World Cup game against Russia and is currently being treated as day-to-day. The injury is to his thumb on his blocker hand, which makes it difficult for him to grip the stick and handle the puck. With NHL training camp right around the corner, the team, as well as the Pittsburgh brass, feels that those essential skills are worth a few days of rest and rehab.
For their final round robin game, which will determine whether they move on to the semifinals or head home, North America will go to Ducks goalie John Gibson, with Jets youngster Connor Hellebuyck backing him up. Gibson, in fact, has more pro experience than Murray and may be a better option for North America going forward. Murray has allowed five goals through two games with an .886 save percentage, so a fresh face starting in net might provide a boost for the team.
North America has other injury concerns as well:
- Blue Jackets defenseman Ryan Murray is also dealing with an injury. While the exact details have not been disclosed, the young blue liner has developed a bit of an “injury-prone” reputation early in his hockey career. Although coach Todd McLellan expects Murray to play and has confirmed that he will at least skate in warm-ups, his status is a game time decision.
- If Murray cannot play, North America will be forced to dress 13 forwards and five defenseman, with the Panthers’ Aaron Ekblad having already left the team with a neck injury. Rangers forward J.T. Miller would be pressed into action, and the defense would have to rely on some heavy minutes from each of their five members.