Kukla's Korner

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Marc-Andre Fleury At The Top Of His Game

from Shelly Anderson at ESPN,

He carries his goalie stick with him for this relatively new part of his pregame routine. Fleury tries to relax, thinks about the upcoming game, goes over how he wants to play. It's sort of a meditative pep talk, but he does not include his stick in the conversation.

"No, no," Fleury said, laughing. "I just feel lonely, so I want to have something [with me]. We don't talk that much. I talk more to the posts. Sometimes I bang on them, and sometimes they're good."

Fleury is goofy like that. He also is serious about his craft like that. A season of milestones is shaping up as a career year for Fleury, and while that has been a cause celebre, there is little question that there are critics lying in wait should the Pittsburgh goaltender falter, particularly in the playoffs.

A survey of social media, end-of-article reader comments, sports talk show calls and the like reveals that Fleury has taken a lot of blame for the Penguins' failure to win another Stanley Cup, or even return to the finals, following their 2009 championship. His playoff record since that Cup win is 21-22.

Certainly, there seems little to no room for harsh judgments this season. The Penguins are leading the Eastern Conference, and Fleury has been arguably their best and most consistent player, putting up Vezina-like numbers.

Coming out of the weekend, he ranked second in the NHL with 19 wins, fifth with a 1.97 goals-against average, tied for third with a .933 save percentage and first with six shutouts. He has already surpassed his career high for shutouts in a season and is one shy of tying Tom Barrasso's club record, and he is operating at a better pace than his career bests for a season of a .921 save percentage and 2.32 goals-against average.

read on

Filed in: NHL Teams, Pittsburgh Penguins, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: marc-andre+fleury

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About Kukla's Korner Hockey

Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com