Wednesday, May 8, 2013

This one's on Marc-Andre Fleury; Pens Lose, 6-4

By Finesse (Follow me on Twitter)

We discussed this passionately on our Raw Emotion Podcast last night, but it's worth rehashing: how can we tell what type of team the Pens have when Marc-Andre Fleury's performance prevents the Penguins from playing a normal playoff game?  Every goalie gives up bad goals.  Not every goalie has made a habit of doing so multiple times and at the worst possible times.  Every game.  And often by scoring on himself.  We can and will complain about the generally bad defense later today (though it was better last night), or the run-and-gun mentality, but all of these problems start with Fleury.


Goalies are not judged the same as other players. By definition, a goalie's job is to mask the mistakes of his team. Every shot the Pens allow is technically a mistake by someone on the Pens because in a perfect hockey game, you'd give up no shots against.  So yes, blame Kris Letang and Craig Adams for their idiotic turnover at the Isles' blue-line while shorthanded (or Letang for this idiotic play), but a goalie's job in that situation is to not fall all over himself and let a muffin of a slap shot sail past him into the net.  Blame the team defense for allowing sustained pressure by the Islanders on Okposo's goal from behind the net, but for as bad as that was, remember: THAT WASN'T EVEN A SHOT ON GOAL.  Goalies don't get to offset their bad goals by pointing to the saves they do make.  If Flower stops ten straight breakaways then kicks a pass into his own net, he screwed up.

And even where you can point to specific goals as not being Fleury's fault, how many goals should a team be forced to score to win a playoff game? When did it become accepted that 3 is not enough? Is 4 enough? What about 5?  When you have a goalie who not only is incapable of consistently stopping actual shots, but also regularly scores goals on himself, how can the Pens ever "get to their game?"  It's impossible for a team to play "the right way" when they aren't going to win unless they score at least 5 goals.

It's hard to overstate how much of an aberration this is from winning playoff hockey, but let's try to quantify.  If you take the Pens goal total by game (5, 3, 5, 4, respectively) and compare it to the winning team's goal total  by game in each of the other series, the Pens record would be 17-4 with 5 of the games going to overtime.

That's right. 17-4.

(Sorry to get all Rules of Ron Cook on you).

Fleury started plummeting back to Earth in the Montreal series in 2010; now it's turned into NASA's worst fear in Apollo 13. He bounced off the Earth's atmosphere during his descent and is hurtling aimlessly through space.  Where he ends up, no one knows.  All we know is that he can't start Game 5.

Next man up.
More fallout coming later today.


  1. This is kind of incomprehensible. Fleury was nothing if not dependable in the regular season and suddenly in three games he's gone Memento on our asses and forgotten everything he did for four months.

    It eludes my understanding why the Pens seem to play their worst games as a team when Sid is transcendent (games two and three) and play better overall when Sid has an average night. Did that puck he took to the facial area rattle him?

    I thought the Pens did many things well in this game, but the mistakes of Adams/Letang at the Isles blue line on the PK in the 2nd and Geno's mystifying giveaway in the 3rd coupled with Fleury's disintegration laid waste to it all.

    There's much talk about Morrow and Iginla and their burning desire to win a cup at the tail end of their long and successful careers, but what about Vokoun? He's in his fifteenth season and has yet to get out of the first round. You better believe he wants that ring every bit as much as Iggy and Morrow and would savor the opportunity to step in and help settle this team down.

    1. There's just a very weird vibe with this team come playoff time. Not sure what to make of it.

      As devastating as Fleury's play has been, it isn't all that surprising given his recent history. Even Shero saw it coming. That's why he signed Vokoun.

      It's such an obvious decision to start Vokoun that even Kris Letang could make it.

    2. Fleury has been craptastic in the playoffs since they won the cup. That said, history has shown that our playoff opponents have figured out how to play against our "system". This has been going on since we barely beat Buffalo in 2010. They need to employ a system that better suits the personnel. Possible suggestions are: neutral zone trap, left Wing lock, Or 1-3-1 like Tampa Bay uses.