"Poets are like baseball pitchers. Both have their moments. The intervals are the tough things." - Robert Frost
Season stats: 37-21-6, 2.65 GAA, .905 save % and 1 shutout
Playoff stats: 7-6, 2.78 GAA, .891 save % and 1 SO
Month-by-month Pensburgh grades:
Contract status: Signed through 2014-15 season ($5,000,000 cap hit)...Unrestricted free agent summer 2015
Interesting stat: In just 62 career NHL playoff games, Marc-Andre Fleury is already up to 24th all-time in goaltender wins (38).
The Good: Fleury wins hockey games, he was tied for 8th with 37 wins on the regular season and even if his some of his other stats don't jump off the page, there's no doubting that Fleury held the Penguins in many games this season while they played inconsistent in front of him.
Fleury also returned quickly from a February broken finger on his catching hand (it remained taped up for the rest of the season) so who knows how that may have affected him, however that he was able to rush back helped the Pens.
The Not-so-good: Frost's quote above is about pitchers; perhaps in a different era he may have referenced a hockey goaltender. There's no doubt Fleury has his moments: most famously in stopping Niklas Lidstrom as time expired to secure the Stanley Cup last summer. The intervals though, have been tough. Plainly, Fleury gave up far too many easy, weak, soft, you-pick-the-term goals that shouldn't have eluded him. Too often - like 9 of 13 playoff outings - he gave up 3+ goals in a game.
Obviously the defense hung him out to dry a time or too, and not all the blame for a team sport can legitimately be placed on a single man's shoulders. But MAF's job is to keep the puck out of the net, and ultimately, he wasn't good enough at keeping the puck out of the net this season.
Also Fleury didn't get an Olympic break, as he basically stood watch for Team Canada, not getting and sort of physical or perhaps more importantly mental break. This is a goalie who's played 200 total games since returning from a high ankle sprain in March of 2008. That's an amazing amount of hockey, and an extended summer could do Fleury better than perhaps any other member of the team.
Final verdict: Fleury stood front and center for criticism of the Pens' playoff failure, and there's no denying that he wasn't at his best, unlike previous playoff years when his save percentage was among the best, this year it was among the worst. So even though it was a 37 win season, it'll probably be remembered more for it's inconsistency and disappointing ending. It seems odd to say someone so young, so accomplished needs a shot at redemption, but that's why MAF will be looking for next season.
Question and Discussion: How confident are you that Fleury will bounce back for next season? What would you recommend he needs to improve his concentration/focus? A new coach? New strategy? Back to the yellow pads?