It’s October in Pittsburgh, almost six months after the nightmarish playoff series with the Philadelphia Flyers, and a shroud of disappointment still blankets the city. The lockout has left fans looking into the rear-view, reliving memories of heartbreak and despair, and our only antidote-the clean slate supplied by a new season-may not arrive for months.
I have been haunted by those same dreams…
Recently, Penguins’ beat writer Josh Yohe exposed managements’ displeasure with a certain player; they largely blamed him for the playoff loss.
Yes, it was Marc-Andre Fleury, and I can’t say I disagree with them either.
It’s a well known fact that the defense played like garbage. The whole team hung themselves out to dry and often looked like a pack of ants frantically darting in one direction, then the next, after their ‘hill’ was stepped on, and their food stores lost. Was Fleury left for dead? ABSO-Friggin-LUTELY. But in all honesty, a blind mouse may have held the Flyers to fewer scoring chances.
For the second year in a row, Fleury had to be pulled from a playoff game. Nobody, in any level of the front office, would be pleased with that. He compounded defensive breakdowns by simply misplaying easy shots. At times, the defense looked strong, comparatively speaking, and then a puck flipped toward the net at slow-mo-speed would find its way through the ‘Swiss Cheese Fleuree’.
I was actually relieved after digesting Yohe’s story, because it is a fair gripe to have. The performance was backed by the off-season acquisition of Thomas Vokoun. Nothing says “You better shape up” better than a team’s biggest free-agent signing being a goaltender; one who was given a four million dollar contract over two years.
Before anyone’s panties end up in a bunch, Fleury will absolutely be the goaltender when the season starts, or arrives. I’ve always been happy with him, but this is another flaw that keeps rearing its’ ugly head in the post season. Those shortcomings cannot continue to surface, and they should be dealt with entirely.
If not, there will be many Penguin faithful looking over their shoulders and checking their mirrors, only to be haunted by another post season collapse a year from now.