May 8, 2014, 5:46 PM EDT
Remember a couple of weeks ago when everyone was busy wondering about Marc-Andre Fleury’s mental state?
OK, fine, maybe not everyone was busy wondering about it. Penguins coach Dan Bylsma insists his players have never lost faith in their goalie, and we’re not about to call him a liar.
But there’s a reason the New York Times felt Fleury was a compelling enough figure to write about, complete with a headline that started, “Once Shaky in Postseason…”
From Greg Norman to Peyton Manning, whenever an athlete develops a reputation, deserved or not, for folding under the pressure, that athlete becomes more interesting to watch in pressure situations. Especially since, once an athlete’s been labeled a “choker,” it’s really, really hard to shake that label.
Oh, and the fact the Penguins enlisted a sports psychologist to help Fleury (said Bylsma: “I think the mental toughness, the mental approach, the mental side of the game is something that needs to be a focus”) didn’t do anything to deter the narrative.
But it’s clearly a narrative that Fleury is sick of talking about.
From the Times:
Fleury bristled when asked if the professional help he received after his repeated playoff failures had fixed a flaw in his approach.
“I answered that already, I’m not talking about it again,” he said as his equipment was packed for the trip back to Pittsburgh. “You can look it up.”
Fleury has been excellent against the Rangers, posting two shutouts and a .949 save percentage. But there’s still a long way to go before the Penguins reach their ultimate goal, with pressure situations aplenty along the way.
Game 5 of the series goes Friday in Pittsburgh.
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