Fleury Proves He's a Big Game Goalie

Scott BarnerContributor IJune 14, 2009

DETROIT - JUNE 12:  Marc-Andre Fleury #29 of the Pittsburgh Penguins celebrates with the Stanley Cup after defeating the Detroit Red Wings by a score of 2-1 to win Game Seven and the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Finals at Joe Louis Arena on June 12, 2009 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

It doesn't get any bigger than Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Finals. Especially when you are the goalie of the away team in Hockeytown USA. 

Marc Andre Fleury was in such a position Friday night and he came up big. He proved that he can bounce back from the worst game of his career, Game Five of the Cup Finals, and put together two remarkable games to help the Penguins steal the Cup from the Red Wings.

With his comeback from the Game Five disaster, where he was pulled after giving up a handful of soft goals, he has silenced his critics. I have to admit I was one such critic.

In previous articles I was ready to trade Fleury. I said his work ethic was subpar and his maturity level was in question. I also said that he wasn't a big game goalie.  

After the Penguins big victory in Game Six, I was throwing back a few cold ones with a friend of mine and he asked me if I would write a retraction article about Fleury if the Penguins win Game Seven. I stated that if Marc Andre was to shine, and practically steal the game in Detroit, I would write such an article.

Well here it is. I'm ready to eat crow and remove a size 11 foot from my mouth. Marc Andre has silenced me as a critic and has gained my respect.

He proved to me, and more importantly to the hockey world, that he can rebound from a bad game, clear his head, and be mature enough to come back strong.

I do want to make a point that he single-handedly did not lose Game Five nor did he single-handedly win Games Six and Seven. It was a group effort in which he played a large part.

Every player contributed in some way. It was also great to see third and fourth liners contribute in a very large way. Especially Max Talbot, who plays and works hard every game.

It was even greater to see Marc Andre Fleury mature and become a big time goalie in a matter of three games.

I, for one, am more than glad to eat may words of criticism of Fleury and I'm glad he proved me wrong.