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.
Apr 18, 2014, 2:27 AM EDT
But it’s one game.
Apr 18, 2014, 1:37 AM EDT
Apr 18, 2014, 1:21 AM EDT
Things got interesting in the third period.
Apr 18, 2014, 12:53 AM EDT
Apr 18, 2014, 12:46 AM EDT
Yeah, not a good night for him.
Apr 18, 2014, 12:46 AM EDT
This game may take a lot out of both teams.
Apr 18, 2014, 12:41 AM EDT
Colorado erases two-goal deficit to send it to extra time.
Apr 18, 2014, 12:07 AM EDT
It at least seems like Jonathan Toews is shaking off bumps and bruises.
Apr 17, 2014, 11:54 PM EDT
That was fast.
Apr 17, 2014, 11:36 PM EDT
He had a big night.
Apr 17, 2014, 11:22 PM EDT
These teams don’t like each other.
Apr 17, 2014, 10:58 PM EDT
The Blues forward is usually the aggressor.
Apr 17, 2014, 10:47 PM EDT
Opting to go with Mike Brown instead.
Apr 17, 2014, 10:35 PM EDT
He’ll remember that one.
Apr 17, 2014, 10:25 PM EDT
Battle of California.
Apr 17, 2014, 10:18 PM EDT
Stating the obvious.
Apr 17, 2014, 9:58 PM EDT
Could this be a key one?
Apr 17, 2014, 9:42 PM EDT
A cap hit of $7.5 million this season.
Apr 17, 2014, 9:40 PM EDT
Carl Hagelin’s face haunts Philly in Game 1.
Apr 17, 2014, 9:26 PM EDT
Did you hear Patrick Roy’s playing career ended against the Wild?
- Sharks go on the attack, defeat Kings in Game 1 7
- Avalanche win in OT, complete third-period comeback 21
- Blues prevail in longest game in franchise history as Steen scores in third OT 7
- Video: Sharks’ Brown runs Voynov into Quick, scrum ensues 2
- Opportunistic Rangers pull away from Flyers, take 1-0 series lead 53
- WATCH LIVE: Minnesota Wild at Colorado Avalanche (Game 1) 1
- WATCH LIVE: Chicago Blackhawks at St. Louis Blues (Game 1) 1
- Report: Hextall ‘in the mix’ for Vancouver GM job 25
- Fuel, meet fire: Torres to return for Sharks-Kings Game 1 11
- FYI: Hartnell and Voracek have black beards now 39