The Case for Marc-Andre Fleury


It is no secret that Marc-Andre Fleury is playing for a big contract next season, whether it be with the Pittsburgh Penguins, the only team he has been with for all eleven years of his career, or any of the other NHL teams in need of a quality goaltender.

It is also no secret that many people, including a peer of mine, believe that Fleury has worn out his welcome in Pittsburgh. Several consecutive seasons of sub-par playoff play, less than stellar save percentages, and a penchant for foolish puck handling have drawn the ire of the Pens faithful.

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However, through his first nine games of the 2014-2015 campaign, it would appear that we are seeing a more refined Marc-Andre Fleury. Amongst the league leaders for almost every goaltending metric available, Fleury has been performing at a level that is unlike anything he has ever done before.

Is this thanks to the new guidance of head coach Mike Johnston and 2nd-year goaltending coach Mike Bale? Or can his current success simply be chalked up to his desire for a big payday?

Considering that Bale helped Fleury to a career-tying best five shutouts during his first year as goaltending coach last season and Fleury already has three shutouts on the year, it is safe to say that his game has truly been improved.

And of those three shutouts this season, with a total of 79 saves between the games, two of them have come against strong competition via the Nashville Predators and Los Angeles Kings.

Those who wish to get rid of Fleury also frequently make comments to the effect that his play simply has not been on the same level as that of 2009 Stanley Cup season. Those individuals also have very short memories as that was one of Fleury’s very worst statistical seasons.

2009 saw Fleury losing the second-most games of his career, posting his fifth-highest goals against average, and his lowest save percentage since 2005. Yet, the goaltender persevered and delivered Pittsburgh its third Stanley Cup after making a gorgeous save against the Detroit Red Wings captain and Norris Trophy award-winner Nicklas Lidstrom. The save still sends shivers down the spines of Penguins fans everywhere.

But those who do not believe in Fleury are quick to point out his failures that have cost the Penguins so dearly in the playoffs since that fateful 2009 season, failures that cost former head coach Dan Bylsma and former general manger Ray Shero their jobs and placed Fleury’s squarely on the chopping block.

New GM Jim Rutherford minced no words in placing his vote of confidence in Fleury when he told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that Fleury was a permanent member of the Penguins: “As long as I’m the general manager, Marc-Andre Fleury will be our goalie.”

The deciding factor will ultimately be during the Penguins playoff run this postseason, but Fleury is off to rocking start to this season.

Put your own vote of confidence in Fleury to join Rutherford in supporting the goaltender for this explosive Pens roster. If he succeeds and the Pens roar toward a Stanley Cup, everyone wins and we celebrate together. If he flounders and the team suffers another bitter disappointment in the postseason, then you get to tell me “told you so.”

What do you think of Flower’s recent play, Pens fans? Comment below and let us know!