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23 April 2009

All Hail Fleury, Our King of the Nets!

In Fleury we trust. Or at least that is what we should be saying right about now. I want to take a look at how well our beloved goaltender has been doing the past couple of years. It is pretty impressive. I like to compare him in a round about way to another Pittsburgh favorite in Ben Roethlisberger. I am not going to dwell on this just think of how each plays. When the chips are down and they are the most important cogs on their respective teams, they always seem to come through. Back to Marc-Andre Fleury.

Marc-Andre Fleury is only 24 years old and has appeared in a Stanley Cup Final as well as achieved over 100 wins. He also is starting to get the Brodeur and Roy-esqe type of reputation, however everyone keeps holding their breathe for him to flop. I will tell you this much, I don't believe he will.

Fleury was drafted by Pittsburgh 1st overall in 2003. He was the first pick because our Penguins were just horrible the year before. We went 27-44-6-5 for 65 points. We were second to last in the league. This was just the second year of our four year hiatus from the playoffs. Ryan Whitney was our top pick at 5th overall the year before. This was a legendary draft class with Eric Staal taken second, Nikolai Zherdev third, Thomas Vanek fifth, Dion Phaneuf ninth, Andrei Kostitsyn tenth, Jeff Carter eleventh, Zach Parise seventeenth, Ryan Getzlaf nineteenth, and Mike Richards at twenty-fourth. You look at this draft and it is amazing how this much talent all went in the first round. The key is that Fleury was taken before all of them.

He was immediately shoved into a semi-starting role for the Pens, even though he wasn't ready for it. That is usually reserved for a team that is half decent. We weren't. We weren't even by a longshot. We sorta left him out to dry constantly. Here is his progression since then...

2003-2004 21GP 4W 14L 2T 1SO 70GA 675SA .896SA% 3.64GAA
2005-2006 50GP 13W 27L 6T 1SO 152GA 1,485SA .898SA% 3.25GAA
2006-2007 67GP 40W 16L 9T 5SO 184GA 1,954SA .906SA% 2.83GAA
2007-2008 35GP 19W 10L 2T 4SO 72GA 909SA .921SA% 2.33GAA*
2008-2009 62GP 35W 18L 7T 4SO 162GA 1,850SA .912SA% 2.67GAA
*-injury season

Those are the overall numbers, but I want to show you the last 20 games of each of the last three playoff seasons.

2006-2007 15GP out of 20 with a record of 11-2-2.
2007-2008 13GP out of 20 with a record of 10-2-1.*
2008-2009 18GP out of 20 with a record of 13-2-3.
*-injury season

It seems like he gets significantly better at the end of the season, just when the pressure is on and you have to. Now onto some playoff numbers, which are also continually getting better.

2006-2007 5GP 1W 4L 0T 0SO 18GA 150SA .880SA% 3.76GAA
2007-2008 20GP 14W 6L 0T 3SO 41GA 610SA .933SA% 1.97GAA
2008-2009 4GP 3W 1L 0T 0SO 9GA 142SA .937SA% 2.09GAA*
*-still ongoing

So you see, Fleury is more solid in between the pipes than everybody talks about. The best way he could make that statement is coming off of that five goal let down in game three, only to stop 45 shots in route to a 3-1 win.

Marc-Andre Fleury may not have a Stanley Cup under his belt yet, but as long as he is in the net, we definitely have a chance.

Let's Go Pens!

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