Flower Power Buries Flyers in First Round

Todd FlemingAnalyst IApril 26, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - APRIL 25: Marc-Andre Fleury #29 of the Pittsburgh Penguins smiles after defeating the Philadelphia Flyers in Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal Round of the 2009 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Wachovia Center on April 25, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The Penguins rode the outstanding play of goalie Marc-Andre Fleury over the Flyers to win their series.  Fleury is easily the most underrated Penguin.  This is a guy who can absolutely take over a game.  He is the main reason I think the Pens have a very good chance of winning the Cup.  In this series, the Flyers, at least at times, were good.  Fleury was better.

The final game of this series, admittedly, was not one of Fleury's best games.  But, at times in this series, he was untouchable.  With Flyers buzzing all around him firing off pucks like they were in a shooting gallery, Fleury repeatedly turned them away making moves no man should be able to make.

While Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin get most of the attention, Fleury mostly seems to fly under the radar, his greatness appreciated by Penguins fans while being overlooked by others.  But, this is a guy that just seems to flip a switch in big games.  During the playoffs, there is nobody I'd rather see in goal.

Goalie is arguably the most important playoff position.  How many times do you watch a team seemingly dominate a game, only to walk away with the loss because the other goalie was untouchable?  I've seen it happen a few times in the playoffs this year to both the Capitals and Sharks.  Fleury brings that same dimension to the Penguins...the ability to win even when the rest of the team is not hitting on all cylinders. 

That is a real confidence builder for a team, the knowledge that they can count on their goalie to bail them out.  The guy also seems impervious to pressure.  The smile never seems to come off his face.

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Now, we get to watch the rest of the first round to see how the playoffs are likely to shape up.  Here's to hoping the Ranger knock off the Caps and the Hurricanes come from behind to beat the Devils.  That would give the Pens home ice for the second round of the playoffs.  If either of those teams win, it would also enable them to avoid the Bruins for one more round, not an altogether bad thing.  But, regardless of who they play, with Fleury in goal, I like their chances.

Congratulations to the Pens on a great come from behind win, on a great series, and for beating the hated Flyers.  Good luck in round two.