We are all well aware of Marc Andre Fleury's struggles this year. We also know his backup, Brent Johnson, has been almost lights out in net. So what should the Penguins do with their "franchise" and big money goaltender? This isnt a question easily answered. Coach Byslma tried getting Fleury some playing time by starting him back to back last weekend. That ended in a loss for one game and Fleury getting pulled after 7 minutes the next game. So has Fleury really became the worst goaltender in the league over the summer? His numbers indicate that. A 1-6 record, a 3.55 GAA which is 36th in the league, a .853 save percentage which is dead last in the NHL. Not good! So what is the deal with Fleury and how should Coach Byslma handle the goalie situation? Here is my take...Play him!
Obviously you dont want to give up on the season. You dont want to waste points trying to resurrect a player. You don't want a red hot goalie(Johnson) sitting on the bench while another goalie(Fleury) loses games time after time. However, Fleury has proven himself before. He has been a big game goaltender. He has a penchant for giving up soft goals, but he also has stood on his head and makes some unbelievable saves. He has a career record of 149-112-2. His playoff record is 38-24. He has won a Stanley Cup. This preseason he went 3-0 with a 1.80 GAA. The guy has it in him. He is simply going through the worst stretch in his career.
Martin Brodeur once said "My belief is goalies won't have slumps if they play every single game. The game isn't that hard. You will get one good game to get your confidence back if you are playing all of the time." This was an excerpt from a great article in the USAToday.
This is true. Sometimes you gotta work through your problems and like Brodeur said, all it takes
sometimes is one good game. Right now, Fleury is losing his confidence and the confidence of the coach. One person who has not given up on Fleury is Captain Sidney Crosby. He also is of the belief Fleury needs to be in there. In the Tribune Review today, there is an article that talks about Crosby's and Coach Bylsma's different philosophy on this. Crosby is quoted in the story as saying "He's going to have good games. It's not like he can change overnight. He's going to put strings of games together, and he can't do that with one game. So, you've got to be patient, too, and let him get back there.With a goalie, you've got to give him time. He's got to play four or five games maybe to prove that, but to sit here and question his psyche doesn't really give him a chance." I think Crosby knows what he is talking about.
So while we are all frustrated and tired of the first or second opponents shot getting past Fleury, I believe he still has a ton of talent and will be the goaltender who leads this team by seasons end. Will he let an easy shot in here or there? Sure. But will he also stop an Alexander Ovechkin breakaway in a game 7 of the playoffs? You damn right he will. We need to stick with this guy and let him work through this. We will all be better off if this happens.
Pitts Pens Homepage