Skip to content

Under Pressure: Marc-Andre Fleury

Sep 24, 2013, 8:33 AM EDT

PHILADELPHIA - JANUARY 19: Marc-Andre Fleury #29 of the Pittsburgh Penguins takes a drink during the season opener against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on January 19, 2013 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images) Getty Images

“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.

That didn’t stop coach Dan Bylsma from firmly stating that Fleury was still their number one goaltender, although as it happens they temporarily have little choice due to Vokoun’s health issues.

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.

Latest Posts
  1. Sharks go on the attack, defeat Kings in Game 1

    Apr 18, 2014, 1:21 AM EDT

    Los Angeles Kings v San Jose Sharks - Game One Getty Images

    Things got interesting in the third period.

  2. Video: Stastny scores late to send Avalanche-Wild to OT

    Apr 18, 2014, 12:41 AM EDT

    Anaheim Ducks v Colorado Avalanche Getty Images

    Colorado erases two-goal deficit to send it to extra time.

  3. Update: Jay Bouwmeester likely not be injured

    Apr 18, 2014, 12:07 AM EDT

    St Louis Blues v Pittsburgh Penguins Getty Images

    It at least seems like Jonathan Toews is shaking off bumps and bruises.

  4. Video: Sharks’ Brown runs Voynov into Quick, scrum ensues

    Apr 17, 2014, 11:22 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-04-17 at 8.18.27 PM

    These teams don’t like each other.

  5. Video: Hjalmarsson lands big hit on Backes

    Apr 17, 2014, 10:58 PM EDT

    hjar AP

    The Blues forward is usually the aggressor.

  6. Sharks scratch Havlat in Game 1 against Kings

    Apr 17, 2014, 10:47 PM EDT

    martinhavlatgetty Getty Images

    Opting to go with Mike Brown instead.

  7. WATCH LIVE: Minnesota Wild at Colorado Avalanche (Game 1)

    Apr 17, 2014, 9:26 PM EDT

    Patrick Roy AP

    Did you hear Patrick Roy’s playing career ended against the Wild?

Featured video

Detroit must exploit Boston's young D
Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. E. Malkin (4357)
  2. T. Oshie (3683)
  3. M. Duchene (3569)
  4. B. Bishop (3018)
  5. H. Zetterberg (2815)
  1. P. Bergeron (2757)
  2. D. Backes (2694)
  3. V. Tarasenko (2681)
  4. M. Brodeur (2509)
  5. O. Palat (2366)