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No Better Time To Start Fleury Than Now

from Scott Burnside of ESPN,

If now is not the time for Marc-Andre Fleury, then when?

Or more to the point, if it is not time now for the return of the longtime Penguins starter and former number one overall draft pick, then the answer "never"....

... there remains a prevailing feeling at least from outside the Penguins dressing room that if the star-studded Penguins are to make good on their significant promise and advance at least to the finals it will be with Fleury in net.

One NHL coach said simply he did not trust Vokoun to get the job done while another Eastern Conference scout said the goaltending matchup between Vokoun and Tuukka Rask, who delivered his first-ever playoff shutout with a fine 29-save performance Saturday, is a mismatch in favor of the Bruins.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Pittsburgh Penguins, | KK Hockey | Permalink



One NHL coach doesn’t trust Vokoun in the conference finals, but what about the fact that the Pens didn’t trust Fleury in the conference QUARTER finals?  Why would they trust him now?

Posted by Garth on 06/02/13 at 07:27 PM ET

Evilpens's avatar

Burnside & the coach & scout are morons

Posted by Evilpens on 06/02/13 at 07:37 PM ET

NHLJeff's avatar

It wouldn’t surprise me if, giventhevhance, Fleury returned to his 2009 form. He’s had time to clear his head. I wouldn’t mind if he started tomorrow, but I think they’ll likely give Vokoun one more game.

Posted by NHLJeff from Pens fan in Denver on 06/02/13 at 07:51 PM ET


One NHL coach said simply he did not trust Vokoun to get the job done while another Eastern Conference scout said the goaltending matchup between Vokoun and Tuukka Rask, who delivered his first-ever playoff shutout with a fine 29-save performance Saturday, is a mismatch in favor of the Bruins.

Maybe, so. But can you trust Fleury against Boston and is that match-up any better?

Posted by jkrdevil on 06/02/13 at 07:52 PM ET

Steve in San Francisco's avatar

Glad to see that ESPN still knows absolutely nothing about hockey.

Posted by Steve in San Francisco on 06/02/13 at 07:54 PM ET


Posted by NHLJeff from Pens fan in Chicago, IL on 06/02/13 at 07:51 PM ET

Agreed.  Despite his flaws, when he is pushed for his job by another goalie, he has always come up huge.  Whether it was coming back from an injury in 2008 to take over the starting position for Conklin, or in 2011, rebounding from a horrible October and being the reason the team made the playoffs when Crosby and Malkin were injured. 

Granted, Vokoun should be in for game 2, but I have no doubt if they have to go to MAF at some point, he will be fine.

Posted by pens fan in baltimore on 06/02/13 at 08:16 PM ET

shanetx's avatar

Many sports writers forgo loyalty to a team and root for the story over rooting for the teams.  This is probably good, if you like unbiased coverage.  An unfortunate side affect occurs where a number of these guys adopt players to also root for with no real team association.  Is Fluery good with the media?  Check.  Is Fleury youngish and marketable?  Check.  Is he associated with the Penguins team of back-to-back finals runs (and a cup) in 08-09 that was supposed to proceed onto a dynastic run afterward (do you remember the articles comparing the 08 finals to Gretsky’s oilers first finals appearance where the islanders best them ?  How silly do those seem now?)?  Of course, and deservedly so.  All of those characteristics make him a great candidate for a comeback story and for being the dude who overcomes adversity (which might just be that he isn’t good enough) and rises to the occasion.

Unfortunately… Burnside, in particular, seems to pine for these stories more than the average reporter.  He’s been talking about fleury almost nonstop ever since Bylsma pulled him weeks ago (I, somewhat angrily, somewhat annoyedly, listen to the NHL podcast espn does where Burnside hosts and Baker, Lebrun and Custance offer commentary and Burnside brings this up all the freaking time).  He doesn’t seem to realize that the stories that write themselves don’t always do it.  Ovechkin probably will not ever have a Yzermanian second act where he gets his shit together and becomes a multiple time champion, just like Joe Thornton hasn’t.  Fleury may never backstop the Penguins to glory again.  He doesn’t have to be Osgood (replaced by Vernon in 97, cup in 98, replaced by Joseph-Hasek-Legace-Hasek for the early 00s, cup in 2008), he might just be a better-early-but-similar-late Manny Legace, done in by a head that doesn’t match his talent. 

Regardless, it’s kinda time to stop pushing for it as that only does Fleury more of a disservice.  Let the pressure die instead of keeping it on.  That can only increase his chance of success when/if another team-wide meltdown gets another goalie pulled, right?

Posted by shanetx from Floydada, Texas on 06/02/13 at 08:26 PM ET


Here’s the problem.  If Fleury gets the start and isn’t good he’s going to get booed off his home ice, pulled, and then everything is a disaster.

He was abysmal in round one.  He had a shutout and then proceeded to disintegrate.  Against the Islanders, who were a joke of a playoff team.

Boston is way better, way tougher.  You can’t start Fleury again until Vokoun gets demonstrably destroyed.  Vokoun lost a game in which his team failed to score a goal.  That’s not something you pull a goalie for.  It was no worse than a one goal game for the first 44+ minutes.

Now, if they lose game 2 at home then I think you change in goal just to mix things up, unless Vokoun’s standing on his head.

Posted by HockeyinHD on 06/02/13 at 08:27 PM ET

awould's avatar

It’s a no-win situation if the Pens lose the series, no matter which goalie they play. If they play Vokoun and lose, then it says they had no faith in Fleury, even in the face of being eliminated. If they play Fleury and still lose, well, then they were wrong to have faith in Fleury.

If they win with Vokoun, then they stuck with the hot goalie, no one can blame them. If they win with Fleury, even better. Maybe losing a close game 7 avoids it.

So they must win. Or else their goalie controversy becomes too big of a problem and then what?

Posted by awould on 06/02/13 at 09:55 PM ET


Fleury played in one game vs Boston this year and had a 87.5 sv %.  In three games this season vs. Boston, Voukoun had a.95%, 96.9%, and 90.0% (Game 1 in current series),  For the season, Voukoun has a 91.9% sv % and Fleury has a 91.6%.  I agree that they should not change unless Voukoun has a meltdown.  It seems to me that Crosby, Malkin, and company needs to get back to playing Pens Hockey and not lose their cool like they did in Game 1, because if they lose Game 2 in the same way, some fat lady is gonna start rehearsing.

Posted by Dutch on 06/03/13 at 08:27 AM ET

Nathan's avatar

Here’s a novel idea—why don’t the Pens just use their oodles of talent to play harder and play better team defense? I understand you can’t have a sieve back there, but that’s why they pulled Fleury. Fleury being pulled wasn’t the result of a few games against the Isles, it was the result of multiple years of mostly mediocre performances (that were dashed with just enough really good ones to force the team to stick with him).

Vokoun deserves a chance to rebound from one freaking game—talking about MAF shouldn’t even be happening. And let’s not forget, the Pens were blanked. It is absurd to make that about Rask vs. Vokoun/Fleury. What that’s about is an incredible collection of offensive talent (Crosby, Malkin, Neal, Iginla, Kunitz, Dupuis, Letang, Morrow, Jokinen) falling flat on its face.

If it had been a 3-2 game and Vokoun let it two soft ones, including a squeaker in the third period to give the Bs a lead, sure, then maybe this discussion would be a little more reasonable. But that isn’t even close to what happened.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 06/03/13 at 09:25 AM ET


It’s not even as if Vokoun was the difference in that game.The Penguins didn’t score any goals.

Fleury, by contrast, was the primary reason the Penguins lost the last three series dating back to Montreal and this unforgettable gem at the 15 second mark.


Posted by larry on 06/03/13 at 02:15 PM ET

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