The Fleury Conundrum

Justin K. Aller

The very mention of Marc-Andre Fleury amongst Penguins fans nowadays often results in very different viewpoints.

"It's a riddle wrapped up in a mystery inside an enigma" - Winston Churchill, 1939 (also Joe Pesci in JFK, but I digress).

That, ladies and gentlemen, that is Marc-Andre Fleury in a nutshell.

Let's get this out of the way. I'm a fan of Marc-Andre Fleury, always have been.

But there have been many times that Fleury's performances have been absolutely maddening. And it just happens that, at least recently, most of those maddening performances have been in the playoffs.

Chalk it up to poor defense, hungrier opponents or straight up bad luck, whatever you want. But the bottom line is that Monsieur Fleury simply has not gotten the job done in the playoffs since the Penguins last won the Cup on June 12, 2009. Again, all his fault? Absolutely not, and not intimating that at all. But then again, he is the goaltender. And for good or bad, the game often turns on the performance of the man between the pipes.

But it really seems to me that the prevailing sentiment on social media nowadays is akin to what Eddie Murphy did in "Beverly Hills Cop", that being plug his ears with his fingers and shout "La la la, I'm not listening". Basically people are tired about this discussion about Fleury, from what I can gather.

So if we all stop talking about it, it becomes less of an issue? If we ignore it, psychologically we'll all collectively do a mind-morph and Fleury will stand on his head once again so the Penguins can host Lord Stanley's Cup? Is that how it's supposed to work now?

We see MAF play a great game, like the shutout he just earned Tuesday night against the Caps, and people deservedly heap all kinds of praise on him. That's great, but hasn't Fleury performed really well in the last couple regular seasons? Where did that get him? And yet, when anyone brings up a sentiment like "he needs to do that in the playoffs", it's immediately dismissed as being a tired subject. Are you telling me that in itself is no longer a valid statement?

Do I also need to remind everyone that Marc-Andre, who incredibly turns 30 in November, has only one year left on his contract? Should I also mention that the guy that bailed him out of last year's playoffs hasn't played a second this season, and doesn't appear to get any playing time before the playoffs?

Like it or not, unfair or not, but Penguins fans hopes for another Cup championship will mostly ride on Marc-Andre Fleury's shoulders.

And I'll be the first one standing up and applauding him if he does that.

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