Has Pittsburgh Penguins Head Coach Dan Bylsma already unofficially made Brent Johnson the number one goaltender in Pittsburgh? There is no doubt that Marc-Andre Fleury has been a big disappointment so far this season; winning only one game and he seems unable to keep the puck out of the his own net. Brent Johnson has had the better start to the season and has six times as many wins as Fleury.
Fleury came into the season as the number goalie but has not gotten the benefit of the doubt the way most number one goaltenders get. During the second weekend of the season, the Pens were playing in Philadelphia (a team Fleury normally has success against) at the end of a stretch of four games in six days. It was also their second game of a back to back situation. Brent Johnson played the night before. Normally the other goaltender plays the second game of a back-to-back—especially if the "back up" goaltender played the night before. Not this time. Brent Johnson played the second game of the back-to-back.
This past Wednesday the Boston Bruins beat the Pens 7-4. The Pens, with Brent Johnson in goal, gave up five third period goals. Johnson gave up four. The last goal was an empty netter.
However, the first two goals of the third came early in the period and were only 15 seconds apart. That was the perfect time to make a goaltending change. The Pens had clearly lost the momentum that gave them a 4-2 lead. There was plenty of time left in the game and something needed to be done to shake things up but Bylsma stuck with Johnson the way a head coach would with their number one goalie. Just a few days ago against Phoenix, Fleury was pulled after giving up two quick goals in the first period. This time, Johnson stayed in.
Putting Fleury in during the Boston game when the score was tied possible could have yielded some positives Not only would it hopefully give the Pens a shot in the arm and change momentum, it would give Fleury a chance to play, make some saves, possibly put his second "W" in the win column and gain some confidence.
That didn't happen. Johnson stayed in and gave up two more goals while Fleury stayed on the bench.
The Pens goaltending situation, to put it mildly, is a mess. It's never good when your former number one overall pick and Stanley Cup winning goalie goes into what is now over a month long slump. However, he has not been given much of a chance to get out of it. He should start the next game Friday Night against Tampa. If things start off bad will he get pulled or will he be given the chance to play through and work his way out of his slump?
Slumps like this take a while to come out of. It won't happen in one period or even just one game. But in order for Fleury to get out of his slump he has to play. The question still remains though: Does Dan Bylsma still consider Fleury to be the number one goalie?