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Marc-Andre Fleury Is the Main Reason for Pittsburgh Penguins' Struggles

Marc-Andre Fleury has hardly played like he did when the Pens won the Cup.
Marc-Andre Fleury has hardly played like he did when the Pens won the Cup.Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
Steven SlivkaCorrespondent IIIApril 18, 2012

The Penguins say they aren't blaming Marc-Andre Fleury for the 3-0 hole they've dug themselves into against the Flyers, but let's be honest: Fleury has a goals-against average of 6.34 to go along with a dismal .798 save percentage.

In the NHL, you are only as good as your goaltending. There's a reason the Penguins and Canucks are both one game away from elimination.

Defense plays a huge part in the outcome as well. Pittsburgh has given up multiple-goal leads, six power-play goals and three shorthanded goals.

All with Fleury between the pipes.

I understand that every goalie needs a great defense in front of him, but there are several other goalies who have been more successful than Fleury has been with a worse defense and a worse offense.

See Jonathan Quick.

Great offenses fuel off of solid goaltending. The NHL scoring champ Evgeni Malkin has been a shell of his regular season self in the series, and the only headlines Sidney Crosby is making is when he's caught instigating fights.

At this point in the series, the Penguins are simply trying to save face. They've been bullied around by their in-state rivals and have made themselves look ridiculous in the process.

Just ask Arron Asham.

Not to say that Ilya Bryzgalov is playing that much better, as both goaltenders have struggled mightily thus far, but the Flyers' ability to settle down, create scoring chances and feed off of brilliant saves like the one Bryzgalov made in Game 1 have led to their dominance so far.

As a goalie, the weight of the world rests on your shoulders. Every puck that goes in, regardless of how impossible the save might have been, is always taken personally.

Goalies believe they can make every save on every shot in every situation for the fact that their job is to keep the puck from crossing the line.

Quick is a prime example this season, just as Tim Thomas was last season.

Unless Dan Bylsma can get his team on the same page without receiving any more suspensions along the way, then the Pens might as well start looking ahead to next season.

As for Fleury, well, .798 speaks for itself. 

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