Marc-Andre Fleury’s horrendous October of 2010 is a thing of the past. Time to keep it that way. After winning just one of his first eight starts – and allowing at least three goals in each of them – last season, Fleury played his way back toward the top of the NHL’s goaltending category leaderboards, and even onto a Hart Trophy ballot or two as league MVP. He would finish the season with a 36-20-5 record to go along with his 2.32 GAA (good for 9th in the league) and .918 save percentage. Not too shabby for most of Pittsburgh calling for him to be traded after ten starts.
This year, the soon-to-be 27-year-old will look to start hot and stay hot, and there’s no reason he can’t do so. He’s been called a top-three goaltender in the NHL on more than one occasion, and, when he’s playing at his best, is, quite simply, the best.
Backup goaltender Brent Johnson is one of the best when it comes to filling the backup role. In 23 games last season, Johnson went 13-5-3 with a 2.17 GAA, saving 92.2% of the shots thrown at him. Talk about a dependable backup.
Prediction: Marc-Andre Fleury – 38-20-7, 2.29 GAA, .922 SV%
With Crosby’s injury status still cloudy, it’s hard to give a good projection on the team overall. But, in the end, I like the Penguins to win the Atlantic and finish second in the Eastern Conference to only the Washington Capitals.
And then, I we’ll do it. I think we’ll win the Stanley Cup. As long as we have a healthy Crosby – Malkin – Staal – Fleury and our top two defensive pairings, I don’t think we’ll lose a round in the playoffs.
This team is as deep down the middle and on defense as any in the league, and that’s a hell of a thing to be able to say.
Let’s go. Pittsburgh Penguins, 2011-12 Stanley Cup Champions.
It all starts tonight. Game one. At Vancouver. 10 PM ET, televised on Versus.
Let’s Go Pens.