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Marc-Andre Fleury on Matt Murray, mindset of a young goalie

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Just breathe. That’s how goaltender Matt Murray has been able to keep his calm in guiding the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Stanley Cup Final.

“It's something so simple,” Murray said on Friday. “You think, ‘Can that really have anything to do with it.’ It definitely helps. As soon as you starting thinking about too much or you start to get too far ahead of yourself you just kind of come back to that, focus on your breathing, just take a deep breath and realize where you are and realize the moment that you’re in. That’s probably the biggest thing that I do.”

After his first playoff start against the New York Rangers in Round 1 – a 3-1 Penguins win – Murray admitted to having some nerves, which would be natural for a 21-year-old thrown into the fire while the team’s regular No. 1 goalie was sidelined with a concussion. But we know how the story has played out with Murray usurping Marc-Andre Fleury for the starting job as his play improved over three rounds.

Fleury remembers life as a 21-year-old goaltender in the NHL. That was 2005-06, his rookie season in the league, which he split between the Penguins and their AHL affiliate. While reaching the highest level in hockey as a young goalie could be overwhelming, it's all about a mindset to find success.

“You just play. You don’t think about the other things,” Fleury said. “You just go out, try to stop the puck and have fun and enjoy. You’re playing in the NHL and that’s cool.”

In his role now behind Murray, the veteran Fleury will pass along little notes that he sees from his angle on the Penguins’ bench, but says there are no detailed scouting reports, only encouragement.

“Don’t need to [exchange] any ideas during the game,” said Fleury, “just gotta focus on what he’s doing, [what] he’s doing right.” 

His teammates and head coach have hailed Murray’s composure throughout the playoffs, a situation many young goaltenders might not have been able to handle as well.

The Murray you see on the ice is the same Murray you’ll get away from the rink, according to Fleury. Calm, quiet and relaxed.

“It’s very similar to the way he plays,” he said.

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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