What did the Pens learn this season about their Goalie position? I will tell you, after Marc-Andre Fleury their just are not any serious answers. That is why Fleury needs to return to the Championship form from a couple of seasons ago.
Fleury had a strong regular season with over 40 wins but that does not tell the whole story. This defense was mediocre at best throughout the season with a couple of stretches of good play. Their best defender night in and night out was Fleury.
The Season started with multiple injuries, then it turned into just poor play. Paul Martin was sub par for most of the season and Michalek did not have a great season either. Lots of turnovers in bad locations, and at times just no real jump in their step. Combine that with the fact that Letang spent a good part of the season on the Injury list with concussion symptoms, and Orpik has not looked like the same guy that he was from those back to back cup runs against the Red Wings.
The offense carried this team for most of the season with it’s wide open style of Hockey. Though something happened once the playoffs started. The defense continued to play poorly and Fleury went back to looking like he did early in his career. Letting easy goals through, and misplaying pucks behind the net. He has never been a strong puck handler, but when he gets behind the net, he sometimes looks Dazed and Confused. And it is that indecision that he shows that gets him into trouble.
After the Flyer series, there was a great deal of talk around town about what the Pens need to do and the talk did not stop at the defense. Fleury received a good bit of the venom also. And after that series, he deserved a good bit of it. But as we saw this season, there just are not any real options behind him. Johnson is nothing more than a weekly fill in and Brad Thiessen whom is currently playing in the AHL playoffs for the Baby Pens has a propensity to give up easy goals and has a weak glove hand.
Their are at least 20 teams out there with average to bad goalie play. Not sure what else can be done but ride out Fleury. The Pens really do not have any money right now to spend as they over spent for Martin and Michalek. Those 2 contracts are suffocating this team and making Shero’s job so much more difficult. The one thing they do have going for them is an absolute embarrassment of riches on the offensive side of the puck. It’s time to start looking at all the options and hashing a plan out to change the overall fortune of this team.