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Fleury’s true comeback bid starts tonight

Apr 16, 2014, 8:58 AM EDT

Marc-Andre Fleury Marc-Andre Fleury

As far as Sidney Crosby is concerned, Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury doesn’t need defending after posting a 39-18-5 record, 2.37 GAA, and .915 save percentage in 64 games this season.

“The way he’s played speaks for itself,” Crosby told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “Me having to defend him at this point is pretty funny. He’s done everything he’s had to do to bounce back.”

Has he though? More to the point, was there anything he could have done to bounce back between his 2013 playoff collapse and tonight?

Over the last four campaigns, Fleury has been consistently solid in the regular season, but has seen a significant drop off once the playoffs start, so the fact that he did well in 2013-14 is in some ways moot because that doesn’t deviate from the troubling pattern. Now though, he has a chance to put his past shortcomings behind him, starting with tonight’s contest against the Columbus Blue Jackets (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

Fleury is looking forward to it.

“I know I can do it,” Fleury said. “I know we have a solid team. I’ll try my best to get to it again.”

He has done it before, though the Penguins 2009 Stanley Cup championship seems like a distant memory now. If he can do it again, then his comeback will be complete. If he collapses this time though, then the Penguins might go in a different direction between the pipes despite his continued regular season success.

  1. pens87 - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:03 AM

    Fleury will be fine as long as the defense in front of him remains solid and does not leave him out to dry by giving up too many odd man rushes. A run-and-gun opening round is not what the pens need this year, has not worked well the past two.

    Happy playoff season everyone, the most exciting time of the year!

  2. toiletclown - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:09 AM

    He will win the Conn Smythe. Stamp it

    • ibieiniid - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:17 AM

      I’m inclined not to because of the last several times you told us to stamp it and ended up being wrong.

    • laxman1944 - Apr 16, 2014 at 12:18 PM

      FLUSH it……how about that?

  3. dropthepuckeh - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:21 AM

    It definitely will help that they drew Columbus in the opening round but what are the predictions for what game MAF gets yanked? I’m going game 3….

    • ibieiniid - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:22 AM

      that should be included in the NHL.com bracket challenge.

    • hockey412 - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:24 AM

      YOU JUST HAVE YOUR FUN. you’ll see….YOU’LL ALL SEE!
      :)

      He. better. not. choke.

      • bwayblueshirt - Apr 16, 2014 at 12:21 PM

        People who’re into auto-erotic asphyxiation don’t choke as hard as he does.

  4. narfmoo12 - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:21 AM

    Fleury was actually at his best the year they lost in the finals – 1.97/.933 with 3 shutouts. The year they won the cup, he was 2.61/.908 with no shutouts. After that he was simply terrible, but his decline actually started during the cup run.

    • hockey412 - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:23 AM

      Thanks for clearing that up, ya bastard.

      • narfmoo12 - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:29 AM

        Happy to be of service haha

    • pdmjr - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:31 AM

      You better check your facts, he was superb against the Wings, he Malkin and Staal were clutch

  5. whammy71 - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:31 AM

    MAFs got this…plus Sid and company will dominate.

    Close down the streets and start the parade…the Cup is coming to Pittsburgh!!!!

    • toiletclown - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:37 AM

      You got it!!

      • laxman1944 - Apr 16, 2014 at 12:21 PM

        Yep…….FLUSH it

    • laxman1944 - Apr 16, 2014 at 12:23 PM

      Don’t blow off Columbus, they’re a very hungry club……..

  6. 7mantel - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:35 AM

    Like all flowers they bloom then fade !

  7. madmax80 - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:48 AM

    I hate the Pens, but the Blue Jackets are not a test. Not in any way, shape or form.

    PENS in 3. Somehow, that will happen.

    • hockey412 - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:54 AM

      Oh man I hope the Pens don’t feel that way. I really, really think CBJ is a good team that can be even better.

      • toiletclown - Apr 16, 2014 at 11:56 AM

        You’re out of your mind hockey412

    • laxman1944 - Apr 16, 2014 at 12:25 PM

      NO……412 is spot on and realistic

      Clown just needs to be flushed like all fecal matter

  8. hockey412 - Apr 16, 2014 at 9:53 AM

    In all honesty, he’ll do fine if he’s CALM. He’s got the tools, but he can’t use them if he’s all hopped up. I wouldn’t trust myself with tools after my 10th cup of coffee, his problem is similar. Part of it is him, and hopefully his sports therapist/whatever helped with that part of it. Part of it is the D in front of him. That includes the forwards.

    In the meantime they can play smarter offensively…there is no reason to have the D join the rush so much that we’ve got 4 guys in the other team’s slot…I can’t remember the last time that DIDN’T give up an odd-man rush.

    Actually – rethinking all this – in Fleury’s case I think whiskey is the answer here. Give him booze and tell him jokes. That’ll work.

    • miketoasty - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:03 AM

      Someone just needs to fill his water bottle with it (Whiskey), as long as he’s not puking by the end of the game I think it will work out.

    • narfmoo12 - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:11 AM

      Maybe someone can give him a playboy magazine and have him recite the likes and dislikes of the centerfold

  9. lilgurgi - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:22 AM

    The true test will be if it’s Flyers/Pens in the 2nd round. For whatever reason he falls apart against them. ESPN (if they had any reasonable hockey coverage that is) could make a Not Top 10 highlight reel of his awful goals against the Flyers alone. I’m so hoping for that matchup to happen.

    • toiletclown - Apr 16, 2014 at 11:58 AM

      Flyers will be golfing by next weekend. Stamp it

      • laxman1944 - Apr 16, 2014 at 12:26 PM

        FLUSH

  10. billiam55 - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:31 AM

    penguins defense has been terrible last few games. if they wanna go deep they need to tighten up and not leave fleaury out there to dry otherwise there will be problems.

  11. joey4id - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:33 AM

    The question is not whether or not Fleury he can make the big saves. He’s made plenty of those over the course of the season and his career. The big question is, can he prevent soft goals from being scored? The last goal of the year he gave up vs the Flyers, and the look on Crosby’s face after that goal was telling.

    Fleury has a tendency to over play the puck at times as opposed to being technically sound, square to the puck, and letting it come to him. You can see on this goal that he went down in the butterfly position a little early, and to make matters worse he didn’t position his stick in front of him to close the gap between his knees. Unfortunately, the puck hit the tip of his stick which was to his side, and it trickled between his legs.

    Fleury’s play has to be a concern to players, coaches, and management going into the playoffs. There is no reason to believe the offense won’t be there, so, the only question mark is between the pipes. How will it be? Fleury? Zatkoff? Vokoun?

    Beginning the playoffs with question marks about your #1 goalie is not how you want to start.

    • laxman1944 - Apr 16, 2014 at 12:33 PM

      LOL….Been there…..still there…….always will be i’m afraid…..

  12. penguins87and71 - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:37 AM

    I think Fleury will play out of his mind, playing for a job in Pittsburgh.

    • miketoasty - Apr 16, 2014 at 10:56 AM

      This actually couldn’t be more true and in reality his play this post season is going to determine how much he makes on his last big contract.

      No one is going to pay him the big bucks for regular season success.

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