Tampa Bay Lightning v Pittsburgh Penguins

Crosby, Malkin power Penguins, help Fleury grab 300th win


Ultimately, the Pittsburgh Penguins’ star players came through on Monday, while many of the Boston Bruins’ best watched on the sidelines.

Boston managed to stick with Pittsburgh even with key players like Zdeno Chara still injured, yet much like head coach Claude Julien has said, they just haven’t had much margin of error. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to generate Pittsburgh’s three goals, including this electrifying game-winner by Malkin:

This 3-2 overtime win gives Marc-Andre Fleury 300 career regular season victories. His agent Allan Walsh points out that he’s the third youngest goalie to hit the 300 mark.

Crosby scored a goal and two assists while Malkin finished the night with two tallies. Kris Letang collected two helpers of his own and also helped trigger the overtime winner.

The Bruins deserve credit for hanging tough, including carrying the play for chunks of time, as you can see from this Natural Stat Trick graph:


The Bruins saw two goals get disallowed through the first 40 minutes of play. The bounces frequently didn’t go Boston’s way, even though they scored two goals in less than 30 seconds.

The Bruins have now lost two games in a row. Their next game is against the Winnipeg Jets on Friday. After that, it’s a foreboding four-game road trip through the West.

Pittsburgh bounces back from two straight losses against the Islanders and will see the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday.

The worst news for them was that Beau Bennett went down with an injury. He returned for a shift but it didn’t go well:

Goalie nods: Fleury looks for win No. 300

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All the latest from the blue paint…

Big night for Fleury

In the midst of a banner campaign, Marc-Andre Fleury will look to set a personal milestone tonight when the Pens host the Isles at Consol.

Fleury is going for career win No. 300, aiming to become just the 30th goalie in NHL history to hit that mark. He’d also become just the fifth active goalie with 300 wins or more, joining Ryan Miller, Henrik Lundqvist, Evgeni Nabokov and Roberto Luongo.

As mentioned above, the potentially record-setting start comes in a year where Fleury has played very well. He’s 11-3-0 on the season, with a .930 save percentage and 1.98 GAA, which includes a league-leading four shutouts.

For the Isles, Chad Johnson will get the start in goal.


Bruins at Blue Jackets: Sergei Bobrovsky for Columbus, Niklas Svedberg likely for Boston.

Devils at Oilers: Cory Schneider vs. Viktor Fasth (read more about Schneider breaking Martin Brodeur’s club-record starts streak here)

(Video) PHT Extra: Was Pittsburgh smart to extend Fleury?

Marc Andre Fleury

Yesterday’s big development — Marc-Andre Fleury signing a four-year, $23 million extension to stay with the Penguins — was a topic ripe for debate, and the hockey media quickly followed suit. Today, Brough and I spoke with NBC’s Jenna Corrado about the deal, and answered two key questions: 1) Was this a smart deal for Pittsburgh? And 2) Do goalies get too much blame when their teams don’t win?

Give it a view…

Note: When I’m discussing potential targets for Pittsburgh, I didn’t specify that Antti Niemi would be of the UFA variety whereas James Reimer would be a trade candidate. Just to clear that up.

Video: McKenzie talks suspensions, Fleury signing, Ducks linked to Bryzgalov

Ilya Bryzgalov

Before the start tonight’s rivalry game between the Detroit Red Wings and New York Rangers on NBCSN, Bob McKenzie sat down to talk about a wide array of hot topics in the NHL. As you might suspect, Marc-Andre Fleury’s newly inked four-year extension and the Anaheim Ducks’ injury woes in goal came up.

One of the most interesting statements McKenzie made was the idea that the Ducks might sign free agent goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. He’s a controversial choice after his disastrous tenure with the Philadelphia Flyers, but he got his start with Anaheim and the team feels comfortable with him.

St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko’s upcoming contract negotiations were also discussed as his value continues to rise thanks to his explosive start.

You can watch that segment below:


What they’re saying about the Fleury extension

What they’re saying about the Fleury extension

Marc-Andre Fleury

The Pittsburgh Penguins’ decision to sign Marc-Andre Fleury to a four-year, $23 million contract extension was met with mixed opinions.

There are reasons why Pittsburgh made this move. He’s had some solid campaigns, won a Stanley Cup, and the Penguins’ options weren’t appealing given the relatively weak projected free agent goaltending market in 2015 and the lack of appealing alternatives within the Penguins’ system. At the same time, he has struggled mightily in some of the Penguins’ playoff runs, which has led to some people to question his ability to consistently stand tall under pressure.

Dave Lozo argued the latter stance when he broke down the deal for the Bleacher Report:

The best thing anyone can say about Fleury at this stage of his career is that he has been average at his profession during the regular season for a very long time, but really, he’s been below average in recent years, even with his .931 save percentage in 12 games this season.

The real insanity, where it appears in its truest form, is the decision to invest four more years in Fleury despite his comically bad postseasons since winning the Stanley Cup in 2009. It’s as if general manager Jim Rutherford is still bitter about the Penguins knocking his Hurricanes out of the conference finals on the way to that Stanley Cup and is now actively sabotaging the primes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

Fleury has gotten off to a strong start this season with a 1.89 GAA and .931 save percentage in nine games, but given all that’s come before it, the Sporting News‘ Sean Gentille isn’t willing to assume that he’s embarked on a career year:

The worst-case scenario for Pittsburgh is that they’ve hitched their wagon to a goalie who can’t be relied upon to put together a complete, consistent, truly above-average season (he’s finished one of his 10 above .918) or avoid self-destructing in May. The feeling that they’ve done just that is also based on years of evidence, and if that’s the guy they just bought for five more years, no amount of equivocating is going to make the decision a smart one.

Not everyone has been critical of the Penguins’ decision to re-sign Fleury though. ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun thinks inking him eliminates what could have been a big distraction hanging over Pittsburgh’s heads late into the season or playoffs. His colleague Scott Burnside also seemed okay with the move:

For me, it’s a simple question of what was the alternative? Let’s say the Pens moved Fleury in the offseason or at some point during this season because they wanted something different next spring. Who’s better? Ilya Bryzgalov? Nope. Martin Brodeur? Nope. Tomas Vokoun? He was terrific for the Pens in 2013 but, with his health issues, he’s not a real option long-term and maybe not even short-term.

Let’s say the San Jose Sharks and the Pens swapped netminders with Antti Niemi coming to Pittsburgh, how is that an upgrade even though both Niemi and Fleury have won Cups and are off to terrific starts this season? And let’s not forget that Fleury could hardly be blamed for the Pens’ collapse against the New York Rangers in the second round of last spring’s playoffs when they let a 3-1 series lead slip away, scoring just three times in the last three games. If the Penguins win another Cup in June, or even if they go to a final or a conference final, this deal will look fine. If Fleury reverts to the form he showed from 2010-13, well, that’ll be an entirely different story, and the pressure from ownership to make use of that limited no-trade clause will be significant.

Sports Illustrated’s Allan Muir took a similar stance:

Would the Pens have preferred an upgrade between the pipes? I have no doubt. But the Rangers aren’t dealing Henrik Lundqvist. The Habs are holding on to Carey Price. Jonathan Quick will have grandkids before he leaves Los Angeles.

With Antti Niemi and Viktor Fasth headlining the Class of 2015 and Cam Ward and Jonas Hiller the top names in 2016, there was no help on the horizon via free agency.

Ultimately, it will be a while before we can say with any degree of certainty whether this deal will be to Pittsburgh’s benefit. Fleury is a gamble given his history, but perhaps he’s one that will pay off over the life of his new contract.