Pittsburgh Penguins Offseason Grades: Marc-Andre Fleury as Team MVP


The Pittsburgh Penguins faithful never seem to give Marc-Andre Fleury the credit he deserves.  While his playoff collapses in years past definitely warranted criticism, you can’t deny that Fleury has been remarkable for the Pens.  His 2014-15 campaign may have been his best yet.

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This past summer saw the Pittsburgh Penguins bring in Thomas Greiss as Fleury’s backup, to which a lot of Pens fans cited as the replacement plan for number 29.  Jim Rutherford clearly had other plans when he resigned the veteran goaltender to a new four-year deal worth $23 million.  And, considering how average Greiss looked this past season, I’m very thankful Fleury will be sticking around.

Despite the multitude of injuries this past season, and the collapse of the Pittsburgh Penguins from mid-December through the eventual end of the season, Fleury continued to be a bright spot.  He didn’t get a Vezina trophy nomination in a season that saw multiple goaltenders have career years, but he was definitely in the same conversation as those that did.

I visited Fleury’s performance earlier in the season and mentioned that he’s likely the team MVP, and the Pittsburgh Penguins voted him as such.  So, you can probably already imagine the grade that I’ll give him as I still believe this to be the case.

Sidney Crosby turned it up after a mediocre mid-season run, and other players such as Kris Letang and Patric Hornqvist had superb years.  But, Marc-Andre Fleury was the main reason for the Pittsburgh Penguins to make it into post-season contention after such a free fall in 2015.

Let’s take a look at Fleury’s final 2014-15 numbers.

Record – 34-20-9
GAA – 2.32
Save % – .920
Shutouts – 10

Impressed?  You should be.  Fleury put together a fantastic season considering the team in front of him played much of the season without it’s top two or three defensemen.  And, that isn’t even the most impressing part of his campaign in my eyes.

I touched on this earlier in the season as linked above, but the Pittsburgh Penguins penalty kill was very good this past season. They were the fourth best team in that regard across the NHL with an 85% PK percentage.  But, the PK unit itself wasn’t actually that effective, despite credit given to those such as Craig Adams, Maxim Lapierre, and Rob Scuderi.

The Pens ranked 28th in shots-against per 60-minutes of play when shorthanded.  The only teams they topped in that category were the Columbus Blue Jackets and Arizona Coyotes.  They also ranked 28th in the league in corsi-for with a 9.1%.  When you’re giving up that many shots on the penalty kill how do you finish with a top-five PK percentage? Miraculous goaltending.

Pittsburgh’s shorthanded save percentage ranked 1st in the NHL at .911.  In other words, they relied heavily on goaltending when killing penalties and Marc-Andre Fleury continued to come through.  The next time you discuss PK specialists for the Pittsburgh Penguins, don’t forget to mention number 29 at the top of your list.  Have you heard the old saying that your goalie has to be your best penalty killer? Fleury was that and much more this past season.

My grade for the Flower is an A+.  He gave the Pittsburgh Penguins a chance to win every time he was in the crease. His puck management was greatly improved this past season, and his mental lapses seem to be a thing of the past.  He was, without a doubt, team MVP.

Next: Offseason Grades: Ben Lovejoy's Return to Pittsburgh

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