Video: Fleury’s falling save; Panik dekes Malkin for tremendous goal

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Whether by choice or a lack of offers, Marc-Andre Fleury is still with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He celebrated that fact with one of the stranger (and more impressive) sequences you’ll see during Wednesday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Fleury made consecutive stops, totaling robbing Brent Seabrook on a rebound with the sort of collapsing stop you seldom see.

That save kept the Blackhawks lead at just 1-0 (Patrick Kane‘s goal is worth watching, by the way), opening the door for an outstanding backhand goal by Scott Wilson.

Here’s the MAF GIF:

Richard Panik made a tremendous play to put the Blackhawks back up 2-1 to end the period, however:

Wow. Here’s Panik getting around Evgeni Malkin in jaw-dropping fashion:

If the second period’s brilliant play carries over to the third, it could be quite the finish. The game’s on NBCSN and you can stream it here.

Penguins’ Rutherford would prefer to keep Fleury this season

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For the better part of the past year it has always been a matter of when, and not if, the Pittsburgh Penguins are going to part ways with goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.

Matt Murray has taken over as the starter, and given his age, salary, and the fact he has simply outplayed Fleury since the end of the 2015-16 season he is going to continue to be the starter for the long-term.

But through months of speculation and rumors Fleury has remained with the Penguins. With the NHL trade deadline less than a week away, general manager Jim Rutherford addressed the situation on Thursday and said that it continues to be his preference to keep Fleury with the team through the rest of the season.

“I’m going to say what I’ve said all along. I’d prefer to keep him,” Rutherford said, via NHL.com “We play a lot of games in March. You don’t know when players are going to get hurt. He’s handled the situation very well. I’m going to have some communication with him in between now and the [deadline] and see exactly where he sits and how he feels. That will play a part in the final decision. But I’m not going to get too far ahead of myself because he very well could be a part of our team going down the stretch.”

That all very well could be true.

Fleury is a great safety net to have on the roster in case something happens to Murray (Murray has been injured on more than one occasion in the early part of his career), but he still carries a significant salary cap hit and the Penguins, pressed right up against the cap, would probably still like to make another addition or two before the deadline.

Even though it is almost certainly not on the Penguins’ radar at the moment, there is also the expansion draft issue over the summer.

Trading him sooner, rather than later, would clear out a lot of potential headaches and give them some short-term flexibility when it comes to adding to a team that is already a Stanley Cup contender.

But even if the Penguins would want to go in that direction right now the biggest obstacle in actually completing a trade before the deadline is just how soft the market is for starting goaltenders. Looking at the teams that are in a position to be buyers there are really only one or two that would be in the market for a starting goalie — Calgary, and maybe St. Louis. Pretty much every other playoff team — or potential playoff team — is set in net.

It takes two teams to make a trade, and right now there might not be another out there that makes sense as a partner.

Pens will see if Fleury’s ‘OK with the situation’ as deadline draws near

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Matt Murray will make his eighth straight start for the Penguins tonight, relegating Marc-Andre Fleury to the backup gig yet again.

Fleury hasn’t received a start in nearly three weeks. And, with the NHL’s trade deadline just under a month away, Pens GM Jim Rutherford was asked how he’d handle the situation.

His response? Keep checking in with Flower.

“The one thing I’ll have to watch for and keep the lines of communication open with the player is, is he OK with the situation that he’s in?” Rutherford said, per the Tribune-Review. “Going back to last year and to this point in time, he has handled it like a true pro. No issues at all. It may play out that we may be able to go right through having two top goalies on our team.

“We just have to keep an eye on what direction Marc wants to go here in the next few weeks.”

It’s been a difficult year for Fleury. His playing time has been erratic and, as a result, his numbers don’t show well — 3.23 GAA, and .904 save percentage. That said, he has shown stretches befitting a No. 1 netminder, like in December when he went an impressive 7-1-1 with a .924 save percentage.

That stretch, of course, coincided with Murray being shelved with a hand injury. Now that he’s back, Fleury’s on the outside looking in.

Rutherford has a dicey situation on his hands. While he’d no doubt like to keep Fleury in the fold — he’d be good insurance should Murray get hurt in the playoffs, or falter — he also sounds like he wants to do right by the 32-year-old.

Fleury’s not getting any younger, and there are teams out there that are in definite need of goaltending help. But the issues are complex — would any of those teams be willing to take on Fleury’s deal, which pays $5.75 million annually and doesn’t expire until 2019?

If yes, are they willing to make the trade in season — as opposed to this summer?

McKenzie’s trade talk: Penguins shop Fleury, Coyotes have pieces to sell

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Hockey insider Bob McKenzie appeared on NBCSN on Wednesday, dishing on some very interesting subjects. Fans will probably be most interested to hear his takes on the trade market.

In the first video (see above), some fascinating stuff on the Pittsburgh Penguins, Marc-Andre Fleury and Matt Murray.

To start, the not-so-surprising: McKenzie reports that the Penguins are “wide open” to the idea of moving “MAF,” though maybe not as desperate as some might think. Why? He believes that the Penguins won’t get into a situation where they’d lose Murray, even if it means buying out Fleury.

Here’s how a Fleury buyout would shake out, according to Cap Friendly’s buyout calculator:

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A lot to consider there.

Final point on that: McKenzie emphasizes that the Penguins’ top focus is a run at the Stanley Cup; if that means keeping Fleury and then figuring something out this summer, then so be it.

The other especially intriguing video revolves around McKenzie’s breakdown of a “grim situation” for the Arizona Coyotes, which leads him to believe that it’s not a matter of if “but when” the team decides to trade players on expiring contracts. Specifically, McKenzie points to hulking center Martin Hanzal and injured scoring defenseman Michael Stone.

Hanzal, in particular, could conceivably net something nice on the open market.

If you want more from McKenzie, check out his take on the Colorado Avalanche shopping Gabriel Landeskog and Matt Duchene.

Goalie nods: Murray’s back, but Fleury starts versus Caps

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Tasty matchup for tonight’s Rivalry Night game between Pittsburgh and Washington — Marc-Andre Fleury, who’s stopped 128 of his last 136 shots faced (for a .941 save percentage), will go up against Braden Holtby, the NHL’s reigning third star of the week.

Fleury’s start comes with Matt Murray returning to the fold, after missing the last two weeks with a lower-body injury. In a related move, the Pens returned Tristan Jarry to AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Wednesday, after he sat as Fleury’s backup for the last few games.

Fleury has been Pittsburgh’s goalie of record in each of the last five games — all wins — so this is a chance for him to keep the streak alive, and potentially keep his grasp on the No. 1 job as well. Coaches are loathe to mess with a winning recipe.

As for Washington, this will be Holtby’s fifth start in the last nine nights, which is a pretty hefty workload. That said, one of those starts didn’t go the distance — he was hooked in a 6-5 OT comeback win over Toronto on Jan. 3 — and he’s playing some of his best hockey of the year right now, having allowed just one goal over the last three games.

Elsewhere…

Carey Price was busy in Monday’s loss to Washington, facing 39 shots, so Al Montoya gets the nod in Winnipeg. He’ll be up against Connor Hellebuyck, who is making his sixth straight start and appears to have won the No. 1 gig over Michael Hutchinson.

— Coming off a shutout of New Jersey on Monday, Roberto Luongo gets another start for the Panthers. The host Isles are going with Thomas Greiss, who has played well in the wake of the Jaroslav Halak departure. Greiss is 1-0-2 in his last three, with a .958 save percentage.

— No switching things up in Calgary, as Chad Johnson will make his third straight start, despite losing in Winnipeg on Monday. No word yet on who goes for the Sharks, but Martin Jones did play in last night’s 5-3 win over the Oilers.