I know it may be a few days late, but really, what's the rush on something like this? Besides, Hooks and I were kind of taking a few days to decompress following another season of blogging (that we would've gladly done for another month or so).
With that said, here's the most recent installment of Marc-Andre Fleury's blog, in which he addresses the series against the Habs and the future of the Pens. Thanks, as always, to our residential translator Becky.
Original, in French, available on Radio Canada
A heavy heart
Hello to you all,
I am now on my way to Quebec. I am already going home. Not much more than 72 hours after our elimination, and I can tell you that it still hurts just as much.
It’s so frustrating to lose, even more so when it’s a game seven. And maybe still more when it’s to the Montreal Canadiens.
I sincerely believed in our chances to be able to repeat our accomplishments of last season. There was a good chemistry within the team. We were a united and determined group.
Until the start of next season, I’ll be asked questions about that seventh game against the CH. I am the first to admit it: I did not have a good outing. I didn’t want to end my season on a bad note.
I was really really down after the game. Happily, my teammates and the coaches took the time to come speak to me.
The message was the same from one player to another: they wanted to remind me that we win and lose as a team. It’s a cliché, but it is also the best way to analyze a setback. You cannot point a figure at just one or two players.
Before leaving Pittsburgh, we did a review of our season. Like the rest of the players, I was entitled to an interview with Dan Bylsma (coach) and Ray Shero (general manager). The meeting went very well.
I was almost relieved to note that they were taking our elimination as hard as I was. I have a very good relationship with Bylsma and Shero, and I liked our discussion.
In my view, our motivation will simply be much greater next season. The core of the team will remain practically the same, and we will once again have a chance to take home the Stanley Cup.
We risk losing several defensemen to the free agent market. Sergei Gonchar, Jordan Leopold, Mark Eaton, and Jay McKee could each become free as a bird July 1st.
I hope that the team will find the means to keep as many guys as possible.
Cammalleri and Gionta, two threats
Obviously, I cannot go without mentioning the fine run of the Canadiens. The CH played with enormous determination and courage against us. From the very first game of the series, they lost the services of their best defenseman, Andrei Markov.
Despite this key injury, the team never gave up.
For a goaltender, it is sometimes frustrating to face the Canadiens. I wasn’t receiving many shots, and so I felt less into the game. They practice a rather passive style of play, and they make you pay for the slightest mistake.
Michael Cammalleri and Brian Gionta are the two players who gave me the most trouble. Cammalleri can beat you from anywhere with his one-timer, and Gionta is inexhaustible.
Despite his small size, Gionta always drove right to the net to get to rebounds.
In net, Jaroslave Halak continued to forge ahead. He was always well positioned, he moved quickly, and even though he is not the biggest of goalies, he looked imposing in goal.
For the Eastern final, I don’t dare make a prediction between the Canadiens and the Flyers. It is a duel between the playoffs’ two Cinderella teams.
Halak will once again play a decisive role in the success of his team.
We’ll talk again soon,