What 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs Mean for Pittsburgh Penguins' Marc-Andre Fleury

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What 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs Mean for Pittsburgh Penguins' Marc-Andre Fleury
Gene J. Puskar

In the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs, it remains to be seen whether Marc-Andre Fleury, “the Flower,” will blossom again like he did in 2009 or wilt like fans have seen in the past few postseasons.

Unfortunately for Fleury, the latter seems to be what the critics are buzzing about.

Fleury has had a successful career so far in the NHL, winning the Stanley Cup and being an Olympic gold medalist. He has nearly 300 career wins as well.

He also had a successful 2013-14 regular season, finishing second in the league in wins this year with 39 and also securing five shutouts.

However, as in every sport, the regular season ceases to matter come playoff time.

When you are drafted first overall like Fleury was, your franchise expects a lot from you.

Marc-Andre Fleury's last three postseason stats.
GAA Save Percentage GP W-L
2011 2.52 .899 7 3-4
2012 4.63 .834 6 2-4
2013 3.52 .883 5 2-2

NHL.com

The 29-year-old has played well over the past few years, but it seems he just cannot hold his own in the playoffs.

Since he won the Cup in ’09, Fleury has had a losing record in postseason meetings. In 14 of those 16 games played, he has a brutal 3.18 goals-against average and a .880 save percentage not counting his win on Thursday night vs. the Columbus Blue Jackets. Those numbers are not what fans and the Penguin's front office should expect from their franchise goalie.

Chatter of whether he was as good as his past accomplishments began last year after his postseason meltdown.

The Penguins opened up the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs against a New York Islanders club that was not expected to make a whole lot of noise.

The Islanders scared Penguins fans after a gruesome performance by the Flower. In the second and third games of the series, he let in four goals apiece. Game 4 saw six more slip by the netminder, which led to him being pulled for then-36-year-old Tomas Vokoun. Fleury would see the ice only one more time and let up three goals on 17 shots in an Eastern Conference Final matchup vs. the Boston Bruins.

It is hard to understand why he has had so much trouble in the past couple years. He plays behind one of the most dominant powerhouse clubs in the NHL.

Could the lights of the Stanley Cup playoffs be a little too bright?

It can’t be. Look at his numbers from the 2007-08 postseason. He averaged 1.97 goals against and had a save percentage of .933. Those stats are outstanding!

Though they did decline the next year, fans will remember the great performance he had in the final two meetings that won his squad its third Stanley Cup.

Even Fleury may not even know what is wrong. No matter what has gone wrong, he has to correct it or his future with the club may be in jeopardy.

The Pens opened up the first-round series against the Blue Jackets on Wednesday night. Fleury played decently letting in three goals on 34 shots, which garnered him a save percentage of .912.

That's not bad, but it isn't really great. He needs to be great. His team will not always be scoring four-plus goals a night, especially as the competition gets stronger in the coming weeks.

Possible future opponents include the New York Rangers, Boston Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning. All those teams have tremendous scoring lines that would be happy to light the Penguins' netminder up. 

Even if the Penguins find their way to the Stanley Cup Final, Fleury will have to face one of the many, many stacked squads of the Western Conference. 

It will be a long road for the Flower, and he doesn't have much time to get that through his mind either. Don't expect the skaters to carry the entire load.

 

All stats courtesy of NHL.com unless otherwise noted.

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