It’s not really fair. The Buffalo Sabres have trouble scoring under normal circumstances and tonight they had to face a hot goaltender. The result was a 5-0 victory for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Marc-Andre Fleury collected his third shutout in four games, although the Sabres only managed 18 shots on goal. Buffalo has now been shutout five times in just 12 contests. They’ve gone 0-1-1 since Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers claimed that they hit “rock bottom.”
Chris Kunitz had a big night with two goals and an assist, including one of the Penguins’ three power-play markers tonight.
Sidney Crosby also picked up three assists, giving him 18 points in 10 contests. To put that into context: Crosby has more points this season than Buffalo has goals. The same could be said for Evgeni Malkin (15 points), Patric Hornqvist (14), or Kunitz (13) as the Sabres have only scored 12 times this season.
During the first intermission of tonight’s Penguins-Flyers game on NBCSN, Mike Milbury and Bob McKenzie discussed the big news out of Pittsburgh this week: GM Jim Rutherford giving Marc-Andre Fleury a vote of confidence as the Pens’ goalie moving forward, and confirmation he would try to sign the pending UFA.
“As long as I’m GM here, he’s my goalie,” Rutherford told ESPN.com earlier this week. “My plan is to re-sign him when the time is right. When that is, I don’t know, if it’s during the year or after the year, but I do want to re-sign him.
“I believe in him.”
Fleury, who turns 30 in November, is in the last of a seven-year, $35 million deal that carries a $5M average annual cap hit. Part of Rutherford’s desire to keep Fleury could be the relatively weak UFA goalie class projected for this summer; it’s currently headed by Antti Niemi, Viktor Fasth, Jhonas Enroth, Josh Harding, Karri Ramo, Jonas Gustavsson and Michal Neuvirth, and there are no guarantees all of them even get to market.
All the latest from around the crease…
Pittsburgh keeps ridin’ Fleury
The Pens will stick with Marc-Andre Fleury in goal tonight when they host the Flyers in an NBCSN Rivalry Night game at Consol. Fleury, who stopped 34 of 35 shots in Saturday’s win over the Islanders, has played every game this season for Pittsburgh and posted solid-if-unspectacular numbers: 3-1-0, .915 save percentage and 2.50 GAA.
For Philly, it’s unclear who will get the start. Steve Mason played last night in a 4-0 loss to Chicago and was busy, stopping 39 of 43 shots, so it’s possible the club could go to Ray Emery in the second of a back-to-back. (Update: sounds like Emery.)
Caps at Oilers: Braden Holtby for Washington; Ben Scrivens likely for Edmonton
Sabres at Ducks: Frederik Andersen for Anaheim; Jhonas Enroth likely for Buffalo
From Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
So we suppose you’ll have to wait until tomorrow (or at least later tonight) to read Rossi’s column, but that appears to be a pretty strong vote of confidence from general manager Jim Rutherford.
Granted, Rutherford doesn’t exactly hold the title of GM For Life in Pittsburgh. In fact, the 65-year-old said upon being hired this past summer that he only expects to serve in the position for two or three years.
Fleury, though, is a pending unrestricted free agent, so there’s a good chance that Rutherford will still be the GM when a decision on the goaltending needs to be made. Fleury, 29, is off to a decent start in 2014-15, with a 3-1-0 record and .915 save percentage.
Of course, it’s not what Fleury does in the regular season that anyone really cares about. It’s how he does in the postseason, where he’s had his share of struggles in recent years. In 93 career playoff games, despite backstopping the Pens to a Stanley Cup in 2009, his save percentage is a modest .905.
Related: Penguins aren’t in rush to re-sign Fleury
For Hadyn Fleury it was close, but no cigar.
Fleury, Carolina’s first-round pick (seventh overall) at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, was sent packing from camp on Thursday and returned to his WHL team in Red Deer.
The second d-man off the board in June behind Florida’s Aaron Ekblad, Fleury was thought to have a decent chance of making the ‘Canes this year, especially with Carolina’s lack of depth on defense — and at 6-foot-3, 203 pounds, Fleury does possess the requisite size to compete in the NHL straight away.
That said, he’s still just 18 years old — won’t turn 19 until next July — and pretty inexperienced, having only played two full seasons in the Western League with the Rebels.
The ‘Canes also cut nine players aside from Fleury on Thursday, bringing their camp roster down to 25 players. On defense, eight skaters remain: Ron Hainsey, Tim Gleason, Andrej Sekera, Ryan Murphy, Brett Bellemore, Jay Harrison, Justin Faulk and John-Michael Liles.