NHL Playoffs 2012: Penguins' Losses Are Not Marc-Andre Fleury's Fault
The Penguins are imploding in the playoffs and everyone is trying to find the cause for the collapse. Marc-Andre Fleury has given up 20 goals over the first three games, but the Penguins and their fans have no reason to blame the goalie for the losses.
Fleury has given up a huge number of goals, and in a normal playoff series that would be unacceptable. The series with the Flyers is anything but a normal series, so the same expectations do not apply.
The collapse of the Penguins is a total team implosion with issues from top to bottom.
Fleury has been great in net all season, but the team has never been a defense-first team. The Penguins entered the playoffs with the highest scoring offense in the league.
With the NHL scoring champion, Malkin, and the electric playmaker, Crosby, leading the way, the Penguins should be well suited for a shootout with the Flyers.
Crosby has had five points in three games with only five shots on goal and is a minus-one for the series. Malkin has only four points in the three games with 10 shots on goal and is a minus-four in the series.
The Penguins have taken advantage of the Flyers inability to play in the first period and have had early leads in each of the first three games.
While the Penguins have had good starts, they have been unable to hold their leads.
The Penguins have become accustomed to winning since they drafted Marc-Andre Fleury. The former No. 1 overall pick has always been great in net for the Penguins and has been responsible for a bulk of the Penguins' playoff success.
The Penguins have put little thought into their franchise's goaltenders because they have Fleury. During the regular season, coach Dan Bylsma admitted the team was playing the wheels off of Fleury, because the team doesn’t have a backup who can get the team wins.
Fleury has had a heavy work load for the Penguins, and it's very likely that he's a little worn down.
It has been proven in the past that Fleury is a top-level goaltender, and has the ability to completely change a series by himself.
It's possible Fleury could have been a one-man show and stole the series. However, Fleury stealing the series would have only covered up problems that would just surface later in the playoffs.
If the Penguins are unable to comeback from being down 3-0 to the Flyers, they will spend the offseason trying to figure out what went wrong.
When the team looks at their weaknesses this summer, they need to examine how every part of the team came up short in the playoffs.
Fleury has high expectations for himself and cannot be happy with how he has played. Fleury is his biggest critic and will use that to improve for next season.
The rest of the team and the fans should not criticize Fleury.
The first three loses have not been Fleury’s fault, instead they were a total team effort and the fans and the team should remember that.
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