Apr 21, 2014; Columbus, OH, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) poke checks the puck from Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Matt Calvert (11) during the third period in game three of the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Nationwide Arena. Pittsburgh defeated Columbus 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports

Placing All The Blame On Marc-Andre Fleury Isn’t Fair


 

With time winding down to under a minute in the third period of Game 4, Pittsburgh held a 3-2 lead over Columbus.

Coming out of his cage and playing the puck behind his net, Pens’ goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury saw the biscuit bounce over his stick. As he was scrambling to get back to his net, ‘Jackets center Brandon Dubinsky potted the game-tying goal on an empty-netter, sending it to overtime.

That goal proved to be demoralizing, because it just took a little over two-minutes for Columbus to complete their enormous comeback. But to hold all accountability on Fleury is unjust.

Okay, did Fleury make a mistake? Yes. Did he make the biggest error of the game? Yes. But to say Pittsburgh lost the game because of him just isn’t fair.

It’s cliché, but when a team loses, it’s not because of one player.

Fleury was pelted with shots in Game 4 – 46 in fact. Bobrovsky didn’t have nearly as much heat as Fleury did, and because “Flower” battened down the hatches, he was the sole reason Pittsburgh was even afloat in this tilt.

Fleury’s team didn’t make it easy on him.

Penalty-after-penalty, Fleury was constantly having to kill off the ‘Jackets power-play – including a full two-minute 5-on-3, which he almost escaped. I don’t care what kind of goalie you are, anytime the opposition garners 14-minutes on the man-advantage, it’s going to wear you down.

One of Pittsburgh’s biggest issues is they seem to turn the intensity down when they build a comfortable lead. And it was evident in Game 4.

Despite the coincidence that whoever’s scored first has gone on to lose the game this series, Pittsburgh registered three first period goals, and were performing exactly how they’re capable of. And then, for some reasons or another, they just play protect-the-net hockey. Sitting back is not what the playoffs are about.

It must be something about the first-round. Ever since Pittsburgh blew an insurmountable lead against Philadelphia in Game 1 a few years’ back, and followed that up with an encore against the Islanders last postseason, instilling confidence in the nemesis. The only way to clog the bleeding, and allowing inferior teams from breathing new life, is to suffocate them.

From start to finish, Pittsburgh must play the full 60-minutes. It lowers the weight on Fleury’s shoulders, and it prevents onlooking Pens’ fans from ripping their hair out.

Now, of course, Fleury’s gaffe is a prime example of his recent playoff mishaps. And to be honest it’s a little upsetting, because Fleury’s manned the fort so well this series, to have him just make that type of blunder really supports everyone else’s doubts towards the scrutinized goaltender.

Fans just got to trust that the overtime goal – which was really, really bad – isn’t a sign of Fleury getting back into old habits. Addictions of self-apprehension, disbelief, and hesitation.

Point is – and I know this is obvious – but the entire Pens’ squad needs to execute way more efficient if they plan on surviving the first-round. And I also have faith that Fleury will bounce back in Game 5.

At least, I’m hoping that’s what happens.

Saturday’s Game 5 can be seen on the NBC Sports Network, and is set to start at 7 p.m.

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  • Doug Sawyer

    I have had it with you koolade drinking freaks who still defend Fleury…he is terrible…If he was a pitcher we would have traded him years ago…If he was a QB we’d call him Kordell Stewart a choke artist.The Penguins went to the cup in 2009 half a decade later the Penguins are floundering against pathetic competition in the playoffs again…Fleury is statistically the very worst goalie active in the NHL during the playoffs

    • Johnny

      I simply said Game 4 wasn’t entirely his fault.

      Do I feel like Pittsburgh should part ways with Fleury? Yes. But there were a lot of other factors that weighed heavily towards Columbus winning Game 4.

      • Doug Sawyer

        Fleury leaves the net so often it’s unbelievable and beyond that he leaves the net and mishandles the puck…this isn’t some rare thing…it happens a lot so much so that it’s also a coaching issue…what the hell is wrong with the coaching staff that they can’t straight up tell this guy,STAY in the damn net!? with 29 seconds left in the game with the Jackets with an xtra man on the ice You stay in the net …end of story…so he get’s burned and here come his fragile mind …it was so thick in the air (his impending implosion) and giving away a soff goal with a clear line of sight was too predictable…and guess what? we’ll start him again in the next game and win 5-4 and everyone will somehow not see Fleury getting scored on 4 times and everyone will rally to his defense…it’s nauseating