Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury entered the 2013-14 campaign with something to prove and he got off to a great start Thursday night. Fleury turned aside 27 shots, including a late third period penalty shot, to pick up his 250th victory and 24th shutout.
It would be tempting to make that event into some grand statement after his disastrous showing in the 2013 playoffs, but the Penguins and Fleury kept level heads with 81 games left to go. They did, however, take this opportunity to assert that they’ve never lost faith in Fleury.
“Sometimes I shake my head at the things I read,” forward Craig Adams said, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
“This guy’s a champion. He’s a great teammate. I’m happy for him. He played awesome …
“(But) I don’t think it means as much as you might think. We’ve had confidence and will have confidence in Flower.”
Ultimately it was a strong performance and Fleury’s achieved a significant milestone, but it’s hard to read too much into this start. Fleury has endured four rough playoff runs in a row, but he’s remained strong in the regular season.
Like the rest of the Penguins, Fleury could have a dominant 2013-14 campaign, but that’s not what he’ll be judged on. If he wants to move past the concerns surrounding him, then he’ll need to have some outings like this in the playoffs.
Busy day in Minnesota, as the Wild made a series of moves to get to their 23-man roster.
Perhaps the most prominent move was the demotion of young defenseman Mike Reilly.
Reilly, the prized University of Minnesota product, made headlines this summer after balking on signing with his draft team, Columbus, to join his hometown Wild.
The 22-year-old failed to leapfrog any of the club’s veterans in training camp, however, and Minnesota will now open with a top-six defense comprised of Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin, Mathew Dumba, Marco Scandella and Christian Folin.
Journeyman Nate Prosser will serve as the club’s seventh d-man.
Up front, good news for former seventh-round pick Tyler Graovac — he’s won the club’s third-line center job, thanks to a roster spot created after Jordan Schroeder was waived and Justin Fontaine was placed on IR.
Graovac, 22, has spent the majority of his pro career with AHL Iowa and impressed in ’14-15, scoring 21 goals and 46 points in 73 games.
At 6-foot-5 and 200 pounds, he’ll add some size to the Wild lineup.
Teuvo Teravainen has played both center and right wing over the course of his brief NHL career.
Now, he’s got a new position — left wing — and a pair of shiny new linemates to boot.
Teravainen will open the year playing alongside captain Jonathan Toews and right wing Marian Hossa, per the Sun-Times.
The move could be a boon for the young Finn. Several ex-Chicago wingers thrived playing alongside Toews and Hossa, most notably Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp.
It’ll be interesting to see what kind of production Teravainen, who just turned 21 last month, can manufacture on Chicago’s top line. His numbers from last year weren’t spectacular (nine points in 34 games), but he did a solid job of racking up points en route to the Stanley Cup, with 10 in 18 games.
It’ll also be interesting to see how long he sticks with Toews and Hossa.
Head coach Joel Quenneville has been known as a frequent user of the line blender, often switching up his combos at at moment’s notice.
That said, Quenneville is hoping to find some stability with this new-look group.
“[Teuvo will] play there to start the season,” he said. “Hopefully, all year.”