The Pittsburgh Penguins have come into the last several seasons as favorites to hoist the Stanley Cup, particularly by the time the postseason rolls around. Whether it’s an injury to their star player, a lack of composure, or a lack of consistent goaltending, things haven’t exactly rolled in their favor during the playoffs over the last few years.
Regardless of the primary reason for their failure to clinch a Stanley Cup title in the last couple of years, despite being heavily favored to do so, the main scapegoat for coming up short has been goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who is heading into what could be considered a make-or-break season with the Pens.
During the regular season, there’s little doubt that Fleury represents one of the better goaltenders in the league. He’s in the upper tier among goaltenders, and possesses an elite skill set. When it comes to the postseason, though, he’s an entirely different goaltender, and not in a good way.
Fleury went from a 2.39 goals against average and a .916 save percentage, having won 23 of his 31 starts during the shortened regular season, to a putrid 3.81 GAA and a .883 save percentage in the playoffs, losing his starting spot to Tomas Vokoun after just five appearances.
Once again this season, it will be Fleury that determines the postseason fortunes of the Penguins. Their blue line is improved. They have as much offensive firepower as anybody in the league. It’s going to come down to what Fleury can do between the pipes.
This is a very real make-or-break season for Fleury. If he can come up big for the Penguins down the stretch and in the playoffs, he’ll confirm the fact that he is the franchise goaltender for the Pens. If not, it’ll be another year that ends in disappointment, and could result in Marc-Andre Fleury looking for some work next summer.