The Pittsburgh Penguins remain confident in Tristan Jarry and Casey DeSmith as their goalies entering the season.
Jarry lost four of six starts and had a 3.18 goals-against average and .888 save percentage against the New York Islanders in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season. That led, in part, to goaltending coach Mike Buckley being fired on Wednesday, with development coach Andy Chiodo being promoted to the position.
“When you’re a goaltender, and I’ve lived it, there’s disappointments that you have to get over and you have to bounce back from,” Penguins general manager Ron Hextall said Thursday. “I feel strongly that [Jarry is] going to bounce back and be a very good goaltender for us throughout the entire year.”
Jarry is entering his second season as the No. 1 goalie after Matt Murray was traded to the Ottawa Senators on Oct. 7, 2020. Hextall said Chiodo specializes in helping goalies retain the right frame of mind, which could help Jarry.
“Andy’s job now is, predominantly, the two guys on the big team,” Hextall said. “So hopefully, we can make some little tweaks. The mental side of the game for a goaltender is a huge part of it. Andy is well aware of that.”
Chiodo has been with the Penguins since June 20, 2018. The 38-year-old was previously the goaltending coach for the Ottawa 67’s of the Ontario Hockey League in 2017-18.
Jarry was 25-9-3 with a 2.75 GAA, .909 save percentage and two shutouts in 39 regular-season games (38 starts). He was named to the 2020 NHL All-Star Game the previous season, going 20-12-1 with a 2.43 GAA, .921 save percentage and three shutouts in 33 games (31 starts) sharing the starting role with Murray.
“Going back to [Jarry’s] experience from last year, he’s still a young goalie that’s learning. I believe he’s going to learn a lot from last year,” Hextall said.
DeSmith, Pittsburgh’s backup, was unavailable in the playoffs because of a core muscle injury that required surgery in the offseason.
Before the injury, DeSmith was 11-7-0 with a 2.54 GAA, .912 save percentage and two shutouts in 20 games (17 starts). Maxime Lagace, who signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning on July 28, was the backup in the playoffs.
“I watched him, actually, for a few minutes on the ice yesterday,” Hextall said of DeSmith. “He’s back on the ice. Taking shots. He looked terrific yesterday. I chatted with him briefly, and everything is going very well. I anticipate him being 100 percent long before training camp.”
Pittsburgh, which has qualified for the playoffs in each of the past 15 seasons, has not won a playoff round the past three seasons and has won one playoff round since winning their second straight Stanley Cup championship in 2017.
Hextall previously said that the Penguins are comfortable retaining Jarry and DeSmith, but said Thursday change was needed, which led to Chiodo’s promotion.
“When you make decisions like that, a lot of it is what your gut’s telling you,” Hextall said. “Obviously, when it comes to decisions of this magnitude, you talk to all of your people. I certainly got opinions from all of our people. In the end, just felt like we needed a change.
“We had Andy sitting right there. With his experience and knowledge of the organization, the goaltenders, he was, in the end, the right guy.”