Marc-Andre Fleury Is Slipping


The Pittsburgh Penguins have had a tumultuous season so far, to say the least.

After losing nearly half their lineup to injury, the team has struggled as of late, dropping 6 of their last 8 games after rocketing to the top of their division over the first quarter of the season.

With their 2014-15 campaign becoming more and more chaotic, what the Pens need more than anything else right now is calm, steady play from their goaltenders.

Unfortunately, this hasn’t been what they’ve been getting as Marc-Andre Fleury has been slipping, seeing his numbers fall over the team’s recent stretch of games.

While the fault is certainly not Fleury’s alone – he’s playing behind a defense that has been without each of their top four defenders at different times – his own play certainly hasn’t helped the team’s cause.

The veteran netminder has recorded only a couple wins in his last few weeks of play, and a closer look shows a troubling trend developing.

While Fleury has found wins here and there, they aren’t coming against quality teams. His last three wins came against three teams currently in the bottom half of their division standings (Carolina, Florida, and Colorado), and they came alongside three losses and two overtime losses.

His last legitimate win against a quality team came on Dec. 15th when the Pens topped Tampa Bay to the tune of 4-2.

Before that, however, his wins came against Calgary, Ottawa, and New Jersey – three more teams languishing in the bottom of their divisions.

How did he and the Pens face against tougher competition? Not well.

The losses sandwiched in between those lacklustre wins came against Boston, Montreal, the New York Rangers, and Washington – with a few losses against the previously mentioned lower-ranked teams sprinkled in as well.

Taking a step back, it seems the Pens are falling into the same trap of beating teams they’re supposed to beat but falling when the real competition comes to town.

If Pittsburgh hopes to reclaim their championship form this season, this simply isn’t going to cut it. They need to be a team that can bring it every night and consistently grind out wins or, at the very least, just barely lose those games.

While injuries have, again, played a significant role, they aren’t anything that other teams are unfamiliar with. Every team faces adversity, but championship teams find a way to weather the storm.

Over his recent span of mediocre play, Fleury has been all over the place when it comes to his stats. In his last 7 games, he’s given up 3 or more goals on all but one occasion (with that one occasion being a game against the horrid Carolina Hurricanes – not exactly a difficult offensive threat).

What the Pens need most is a netminder that can be steady and reliable in the cage, helping them find glory when they’re at their best, and bailing them out when they’re at their worst.

Fleury’s play over the first portion of the season proved he can be that guy – he still leads the league with 6 shutouts this season.

But his recent play has done little to help the struggles of his team, and their record is beginning to show it.

Pittsburgh remains atop the Metropolitan Division with 54 points, but after racking up only 4 points out of a possible 16 during their last few weeks of play, they now lead the second-place New York Islanders by only one point, while the Rangers and Capitals sit only four points back.

The team is healthy enough now to go on a run and regain some breathing room, but they’ll need quality goaltending to get there. Whether Fleury’s slide is a result of poor defense, being overplayed, or anything else, his team needs him to get back on track as soon as possible before things get out of control.