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.
May 22, 2015, 11:42 PM EDT
Kucherov, Paquette, and Glass all receive misconduct penalties.
May 22, 2015, 11:10 PM EDT
The score was one-sided, but this game could have gone the other way if not for the Rangers’ netminder.
May 22, 2015, 10:40 PM EDT
Leon Draisaitl’s late goal can’t turn the tide.
May 22, 2015, 9:53 PM EDT
Keith Yandle got his first marker of the playoffs.
May 22, 2015, 9:04 PM EDT
Will we see more goals like that from him before the playoffs are over?
May 22, 2015, 8:08 PM EDT
All three of their teams are still in the running for the Stanley Cup.
May 22, 2015, 7:35 PM EDT
San Jose has been linked to several high profile coaches.
May 22, 2015, 6:31 PM EDT
He was credited with turning around the Red Wings’ power play.
May 22, 2015, 6:01 PM EDT
Will New York be able to contain Tampa Bay this time around?
May 22, 2015, 5:30 PM EDT
“No one wants to back up. Everyone wants to play.”
May 22, 2015, 4:34 PM EDT
Not only did the Ducks block 27 shots last night, they clogged up the neutral zone too.
May 22, 2015, 3:25 PM EDT
Can’t imagine Teuvo Teravainen was, either.
May 22, 2015, 2:24 PM EDT
Canucks GM witnessed the goalie get a shutout in the AHL playoffs.
May 22, 2015, 1:41 PM EDT
Coach Q: “He’ll need a few days out here. We’ll get an evaluation and go from there.”
May 22, 2015, 1:38 PM EDT
Son of ex-NHLer Brian is off to Boston University next year.
May 22, 2015, 1:05 PM EDT
“It’s been real special, to say the least.”
May 22, 2015, 12:47 PM EDT
The third ‘tender taken at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft had a rough first pro season in North America.
May 22, 2015, 12:30 PM EDT
Finnish forward joined the organization last year after solid production in the SM-liiga.
May 22, 2015, 12:21 PM EDT
That’s him, with Vladimir Putin.
May 22, 2015, 12:03 PM EDT
No word on who’ll draw in as a replacement.
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