Bench Marc-Andre Fleury. I’ll say it again. Bench Marc-Andre Fleury.
That’s what Billy Nauman said in his article February 5, 2013, on TheHockeyWriters.com. Not that Nauman doesn’t have a basis for his opinion, he backs it up well with Fleury’s numbers versus Tomas Vokoun’s. But I will not agree with this statement: “I’m writing this because Marc-Andre Fleury has been a disappointment throughout his entire career.”
Does anyone remember the year the Pittsburgh Penguins became Stanley Cup Champions? Last time I checked, Fleury was the goalie who stopped 162 shots in six games against the Red Wings, not including Game 5 of the series when he was pulled in favor of Mathieu Garon. Check out Fleury’s saves in the final seconds of Game 7.
Though Fleury has had some poor performances and many goals have gone behind him that he should want back, saying he has never been an elite goaltender is not accurate. He was the goaltender to turn to on the back-to-back cup runs the Penguins made, and even though he struggles, when MAF is hot, he’s hot.
So maybe he isn’t at the top of the goalie list when it comes to save percentage, but maybe he doesn’t have to. The Pittsburgh Penguins have two of the best players in the world in Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. A team needs a very strong net minder when they have a team that struggles to score or has a less-than average defense. The Penguins have both offensive and defensive strength.
In the game against New Jersey Sunday, Fleury made some remarkable saves and kept the score close, especially when the Penguins took penalty after penalty. A goaltender can’t be responsible for every player on the ice, it isn’t his fault his team kept putting themselves in a bad position.
For his play earlier in the game before his team took up residence in the penalty box, he even drew praise on twitter for his play.
Don’t think that just because Fleury has had some bad games this season he will get benched in favor of Vokoun. Dan Bylsma has seen Fleury at his best and at his worst. He knows his players and will make the best decision for the team.