Sep 24, 2013, 8:33 AM EDT
“Under Pressure” is a preseason series we’ll be running on PHT. For each team in the NHL, we’ll pick one player, coach, GM, mascot or whatever that everyone will be watching closely this season. Feel free to play the song as you read along. Also feel free to go to the comment section and tell us we picked poorly.
For the Pittsburgh Penguins we picked…goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
On a team that typically has no trouble scoring goals and in recent years has almost always been regarded as a major Stanley Cup contender, Fleury has become something of a blemish.
The most frustrating part for this franchise is that goaltending shouldn’t be this big of an issue. Fleury should be up to the task. He was once a highly regarded prospect and has even excelled at times, but he’s also struggled for four straight playoff runs. And it’s only gotten worse.
Although he wasn’t solely to blame, Fleury couldn’t seem to buy a save against the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round of the 2011 playoffs. After that, the Penguins decided to get a backup goaltender they could depend on in Tomas Vokoun.
The Penguins still went right back to Fleury for the start of the 2013 regular season, but they were ready when he went cold again in the playoffs. Vokoun took over and helped guide them to the Eastern Conference Final for the first time since 2009.
Still, while the Penguins remain largely loyal to the former first overall pick, questions about his ability to step up in high-pressure games have to be on their minds. It was probably a factor when Hockey Canada declined to invite him to their Olympic orientation camp despite the fact that the 28-year-old made the 2010 gold medal-winning team.
It has to be weighing on Fleury, too. How many second chances will he get? His contract expires in the summer of 2015. If he can’t shake his current reputation, will there be a team out there willing to offer him a long-term deal?
Fleury’s path to redemption starts in October, but it certainly can’t end there. A great regular season won’t shake away the doubts or stigma surrounding him. After all, he had a solid regular season in 2013 and it didn’t solve anything. To get out from under this, he will need to be at his best this spring.
Otherwise the Penguins will be struck with a disturbing sense of déjà vu and on a team that’s trying to win at all cost while Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are in their prime, they would be hard pressed to simply go through this again with Fleury in 2014-15.
For all of our Under Pressure series, click here.
Aug 29, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT
Can he fit in well enough to embrace this opportunity?
Aug 29, 2014, 10:10 PM EDT
Should they make a move or play hardball with free agents?
Aug 29, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT
Jeff Skinner was also on the ice Friday.
Aug 29, 2014, 8:00 PM EDT
Can’t top No. 4.
Aug 29, 2014, 6:29 PM EDT
“I’m sleeping with it tonight.”
Aug 29, 2014, 4:57 PM EDT
The Chicago Blackhawks let him walk.
Aug 29, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT
Team has needs at center.
Aug 29, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT
Played 20 career games with Boston.
Aug 29, 2014, 2:15 PM EDT
Was schedule for Ontario Superior Court Sept. 8
Aug 29, 2014, 1:18 PM EDT
A pair of hilarious ads to promote the game.
Aug 29, 2014, 12:33 PM EDT
Heading into a contract year, lots on his shoulders.
Aug 29, 2014, 11:05 AM EDT
Scored 135 goals and 299 points in four seasons with the London Knights.
Aug 29, 2014, 10:45 AM EDT
Spent the past two seasons in Edmonton.
Aug 29, 2014, 10:02 AM EDT
Their cap situation and defensive logjam might lead them to make a trade.
Aug 29, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
“It’s amazing how an accident like this puts things in perspective.”
Aug 29, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
They won the Presidents’ Trophy, but fell in the second round.
Aug 28, 2014, 10:46 PM EDT
Will one be named this season?
Aug 28, 2014, 9:33 PM EDT
The new coach wants the Penguins to ‘lessen the load.’
Aug 28, 2014, 8:21 PM EDT
It wasn’t even close.
Aug 28, 2014, 7:11 PM EDT
They have a lot of players on their roster with something to prove.
- Fanspeak: Bobby Orr named best Bruin in franchise history 16
- Video: Bruins participate in commercials to promote NHL 15 5
- Oilers ink Schultz to one-year deal 2
- It’s Boston Bruins day on PHT 38
- Fanspeak: Dominik Hasek voted greatest Sabre in franchise history 33
- Is Colorado’s rise a fair example of what might happen in Buffalo? 7
- It’s Buffalo Sabres day on PHT 19
- Gomez goes full circle by rejoining Devils on tryout basis 13
- Under Pressure: Jimmy Howard 6
- Looking to make the leap: Anthony Mantha 21