Fleury needs some (goal)tender loving care
By: Chris Bradford Beaver County Times
Thursday October 14, 2010 12:04 AM
There is a growing sentiment around the NHL that it’s not necessary to receive great goaltending to win the Stanley Cup.
To be sure it’s a radical idea, heretofore thought to be blasphemy, but its proponents quickly point out the names of the masked men to reach the Cup finals since the 2005 lockout. Antti Niemi, Michael Leighton, Chris Osgood, Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Ray Emery, Cam Ward, Dwayne Roloson and yes, one Marc-Andre Fleury, they argue aren’t exactly Terry Sawchuk or Ken Dryden.
The Penguins, at least publicly, aren’t big proponents of said theory. To a man, they still believe they have a good — and at times elite — goaltender in Fleury.
However, nights like Wednesday make you wonder if Fleury will ever get back to the level that he displayed in the magical springs of 2008 and ’09.
Six months after their second-round ouster at the hands of Montreal, a vocal minority of Penguins fans still pin it all on Fleury. Conveniently, they forget about the dysfunctional power play or the lack of muscle on defense on which Montreal capitalized. That diving stop on Detroit’s Nick Lidstrom in the waning seconds of Game 7? Ancient history as far as they are concerned.
Unfortunately for Fleury, he gave his critics plenty more to moan about Wednesday night during the Penguins’ 4-3 loss to the Maple Leafs, when Fleury surrendered three goals on five shots in the second period, four on 14 for the game.
Of those 14 shots, Fleury faced only “eight” quality scoring chances, according to his coach. “There’s a couple there has to come up with the save,” Dan Bylsma said.
Not that Fleury, who fell to 0-3 on the season needed reminded.
“Too may goals against for sure,” said Fleury, who’s goals-against average was already a bloated 3.08 entering the game. “We didn’t give up that many shots, just disappointing for me to lose that one.”
In fact, Fleury wasn’t all to blame for the loss. It certainly didn’t help Fleury that he didn’t have his top defensive pair in Brooks Oprik and Zbynek Michalek, or that he had to endure the mock cheers when he made even the most remedial of saves.
The goalie position is regarded as one of the toughest in sports — they don’t make pitcher’s retrieve the ball after they’ve given up a home run — and it’s made even more demanding when you’re confidence is shattered.
A little tender loving care might be in order here.