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.
This hasn’t been the best night for St. Louis sports fans.
Obviously, the MLB’s Cardinals getting bounced from the playoffs is a bigger deal, but the Blues face bad news, too.
While they’re currently leading the Calgary Flames by a score of 4-3, they’ll need to hang on without Kevin Shattenkirk, whose night is over thanks to a lower-body injury.
There’s no word yet on how severe the issue might be.
Naturally, the Blues must hope that it’s minor, as Shattenkirk is one of the NHL’s truly underrated assets on the blueline.
Stephanie (@MyRegularFace) tracked down a moment when the injury may have happened:
It’s not all rosy for the Flames, either, as Lance Bouma suffered an injury as well.
In some ways, it really felt like their first-round series.
For all the talent on both ends of the rink with the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning, each squad can really smother opponents defensively when things go that way.
Through two periods, the two teams were very quiet. Things really picked up when Justin Abdelkader unleashed a big hit, a moment that injected enough life into the proceedings for the Red Wings to eventually build a 3-1 win.
Maybe they’re slipping under the radar a bit compared to previous iterations of the team, but it’s interesting that the Red Wings are now undefeated in three games.
They’ve been impressive at times, too, outscoring opponents by a combined score of 11-4.
Call it a refreshing time after Mike Babcock or merely carryover from a subtly solid run last season, but either way, the Red Wings may just be able to keep up their end of a brewing rivalry.