All the latest from the blue paint…
Halak to face Fleury
Interesting sidebar to tonight’s Penguins-Islanders game at Nassau — Marc-Andre Fleury and Jaroslav Halak, named as replacement All-Stars for Pekka Rinne and Jimmy Howard yesterday, will square off in a key Metropolitan Division showdown.
The Isles head into tonight’s action one point up on the Pens, and much of that has to do with Halak’s play this year; he’s won nine of his last 11 starts and has been very good against Pittsburgh this season, posting a 1.52 GAA and .954 save percentage through two head-to-head matchups.
Fleury has been equally strong this season, especially against the Isles — he’s secured three of a possible four points with a 2.40 GAA and .929 save percentage.
Canucks at ‘Canes: Cam Ward for Carolina, no word yet on a Vancouver starter.
Rangers at Jackets: Henrik Lundqvist for New York, Sergei Bobrovsky likely for Columbus.
Caps at Preds: Braden Holtby vs. Carter Hutton
Jets at ‘Hawks: Corey Crawford for Chicago, no word yet on a Winnipeg starter.
Devils at Ducks: Cory Schneider vs. Ilya Bryzgalov
Busy morning on the All-Star goalie replacement front.
Shortly after the NHL announced Jaroslav Halak would fill in for the injured Jimmy Howard, it revealed that Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury would head to Columbus in place of Pekka Rinne, who’s sidelined with a knee sprain.
This will mark Fleury’s second All-Star Game appearance, and it is well deserved. The 30-year-old netminder has posted excellent statistics this season, ranking fourth in the NHL with 22 wins, sixth with a 2.16 goals-against average and seventh with a .926 save percentage. Fleury also leads the league in shutouts, with six.
So, to recap…your 2015 NHL All-Star Game goalies are now Fleury, Halak, Corey Crawford, Sergei Bobrovsky, Roberto Luongo and Carey Price.
Cue Washington fans expressing outrage that Braden Holtby wasn’t chosen as a replacement.
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.