What they’re saying about Fleury’s collapse

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Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was solid for most of Wednesday’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, but he looked pretty bad on the game-tying and overtime goals.

It might just be shrugged off as a bad performance if it was an isolated incident, but Fleury now has a 3.18 GAA and .903 save percentage in the 2014 playoffs after a solid regular season.

That follows an all-too familiar script that sees Fleury excel in the regular season and then take a step back when it matters the most. An argument can be made that he’s struggled in every playoff run since the Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 2009.

With that in mind, it’s perhaps not surprising that the reaction to Fleury’s performance on Wednesday was heavily critical despite the great saves he made earlier in the game. Here’s a sampling of the reaction on Twitter from a number of notable hockey writers and commentators:

Video: Dubinsky’s tying goal draws heat on Fleury

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Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has often been a lightning rod for criticism, especially since he’s had some low moments in the playoffs. Wednesday won’t exactly help matters for the one-time Stanley Cup champion.

Many are criticizing Fleury for playing the puck late in Game 4 against the Columbus Blue Jackets, opening up room for chaos to ensue and Brandon Dubinsky to pounce on the opportunity:

This constitutes another blown lead in this series, as the Penguins saw a 3-0 lead melt away into a 3-3 tie to produce an overtime nail-biter currently on NBCSN.

Again, many critiqued “The Flower.”

Then again, some think that it’s too easy just to pick on him:

Either way, the Penguins are a goal away from either being up 3-1 or 2-2 in this exciting series.

Fleury’s true comeback bid starts tonight

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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.

Video: Fleury makes spectacular sprawling shootout save

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Marc-Andre Fleury has always been known for his athletic ability. But this. This was something else.

Fleury made a spectacular desperation, sprawling save on Daniel Alfredsson in the shootout of Wednesday’s 4-3 win for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

It looked like Alfredsson had Fleury beat and a wide open net to bury the puck. But Fleury rolled over onto his back and threw out the glove to make the save. We’ve seen this before in the past – from goaltending great Dominik Hasek.

 

Fleury leads battered Penguins to victory over Avalanche

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The Penguins were missing Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz, Evgeni Malkin, Pascal Dupuis, Marcel Goc, Kris Letang, Brooks Orpik, and Olli Maatta tonight…but they still had goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. He kicked out 39 shots in regulation to lead them to a 3-2 shootout victory over the Colorado Avalanche.

Pittsburgh also had forward Brandon Sutter, who logged 23:33 minutes with most of the team’s top-six forwards sidelined, and scored two goals in the span of 3:22 minutes. Jussi Jokinen made his return tonight and registered an assist before beating Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov in the shootout.

Although he came up short, Varlamov also had a good night, stopping 30 of 32 shots. He hasn’t allowed more than two goals in regulation in a single contest since March 25.

The Avalanche aren’t dealing with the sheer volume of injuries that Pittsburgh has, but it is worth noting that they were missing top scorer Matt Duchene. Despite that, the Avalanche rallied back from a 2-0 deficit and Patrick Bordeleau bought the team a point with his goal at 16:47 of the third period.

Pittsburgh’s already locked into the second seed in the Eastern Conference, so these two points won’t impact the Eastern Conference standings. It does have meaning to the Chicago Blackhawks though as they try to close the gap between them and the Colorado Avalanche in the battle for the second seed in the Central Division.