Bennett: It’s ‘crazy’ that Fleury didn’t make All-Star roster

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Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby thinks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury had an All-Star worthy first half, but at the end of the day “you can’t take anything away from the guys who are there.”

Forward Beau Bennett was less diplomatic.

“That’s pretty crazy,” Bennett said of the snub, per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Look at all the injuries we’ve had and the numbers he’s still put up. He deserves more recognition.”

There’s no question that Fleury has had a good year with his 21-7-4 record, 2.16 GAA, and .926 save percentage in 33 contests. In fact at this rate, 2014-15 might prove to be the best season of the 30-year-old’s career.

“For some reason, he goes under the radar,” Bennett said. “But we know what we’ve got in Flower. He’s one of the best goalies in the league. He came into this season with a vengeance. He’s been great.”

Fleury doesn’t fly under the radar as being the top goaltender on the Penguins lends itself to a lot of attention. His value has been a subject of hot debate due to his past shortcomings in the playoffs, but he was solid in Pittsburgh’s 2014 postseason run.

The netminder admitted that being left off the All-Star roster stung a bit.

“But that’s fine,” Fleury added. “I’ll get a few extra days to rest the body a little bit and come back fresh.”

He might not want to get too far ahead of himself though. While he wasn’t included on the initial roster, Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard won’t be available and Fleury might end up being the one that takes his place.

Video: Lightning chase Fleury

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Penguins’ starter Marc-Andre Fleury was pulled after allowing three Lightning goals on 10 shots tonight in Tampa Bay.

Nikita Kucherov’s goal 52 seconds into the second period, which gave the Lightning a 3-0 lead, chased Fleury.

Jeff Zatkoff has replaced Fleury.

Kopitar, Voracek, Fleury named NHL’s three stars of the week

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Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar, Philly’s Jakub Voracek and Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury have been named the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Dec. 21, the league announced on Monday.

The highlights:

Kopitar led the NHL with nine points and eight assists in three games, helping the Kings (17-11-6, 40 points) win two of three starts to maintain a Wild Card spot in the Western Conference.

Voracek tied for second among all players with seven points (3-4—7) in four games to power the Flyers (13-14-6, 32 points) to five out of a possible eight standings points and vault into the top spot in NHL scoring.

Fleury went 3-0-0 with a 0.99 goals-against average, .971 save percentage and one shutout to help the Penguins (22-6-4, 48 points) record a trio of victories and maintain the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

For Kopitar, last week was huge as it snapped him out of a terrible scoring slump. The 27-year-old had just 13 points through his first 28 games and a 10-game goalless drought from Nov. 18 to Dec. 11.

Penguins clear Fleury, continue to deal with mumps

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The Pittsburgh Penguins announced that Marc-Andre Fleury tested negative for the mumps and has been cleared to play against the Colorado Avalanche. The rest of the news is murky or downright negative, however.

Backup goalie Thomas Greiss is being tested and kept in isolation. As mentioned on Wednesday, defensemen Olli Maatta and Robert Bortuzzo are also being monitored, as their results are still to be determined.

Sidney Crosby and Beau Bennett have already been confirmed to deal with the problem, so this mumps outbreak is causing serious issues for the Penguins.

We may know more about whether Crosby can play against Colorado later today:

Despite these problems, Pittsburgh beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2 on Monday and hope to improve on a 20-6-4 record tonight.

Bylsma sticks up for Fleury, wants to be coaching again soon

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Former Penguins coach Dan Bylsma was on Sportsnet’s FAN 590 radio today (audio). Among the questions he was asked: Do Pittsburgh’s Stanley Cup hopes all “come down” to how Marc-Andre Fleury performs once the playoff pressure’s on?

Bylsma, not surprisingly, suggested it’s a bit more complex than that.

“I think it’s easy to pin it on one guy and to say that’s the case,” he said. “Some of the struggles Marc had, you look back to the opening series against Philadelphia (in 2012)…no one’s going to like those numbers when you’re under .900 save percentage.

“But I don’t think you can pin that all on the goaltender and say, well, if Marc-Andre Fleury would have played better then we would have won. But that’s going to be something that happens.”

Bylsma went on to say that Fleury is “playing spectacular” right now and that the 30-year-old, who’s been roundly criticized for his .905 career save percentage in the postseason, has won in the playoffs before, helping the Penguins to a Stanley Cup title in 2009.

“You just can’t leave your goaltender out to dry,” he said. “You can’t pin it all on your goaltender and say, ‘We’re going to win if he has a .950 save percentage.'”

As for Bylsma’s coaching future? He said he’d like to be back behind an NHL bench within the next year, if not sooner.

“I’m not necessarily ready to get [back] to the game tomorrow,” he said, “but I’m certainly going to get back in at some point in time and look to be a coach again.”