Marc-Andre Fleury clearly still has the chops to lead Pittsburgh to a Stanley Cup. He has had another terrific regular season and made one of the most acrobatic saves of the year last night in the shootout. The huge question of course is what will happen come playoff time?
OK, so Hasek isn’t deceased and Alfie could have done a better job of elevating the puck, but the point is Fleury is still a difference-maker. Usually in a good way. He reinforced last night, as he has done much of the season, he has as high a skill and athleticism level of any goalie on the planet.
With a couple games remaining, he’s just one behind league leader Seymon Varlamov for most wins and he’s tied for third with five shutouts.
He’s also come through in crunch situations, winning six of eight shootouts, stopping 82 per cent of the 1-on-1 chances he’s faced. Among No. 1 goalies, his save percentage while his team is shorthanded – typically when a stopper faces his toughest chances – is best in the league at .913.
Still, we can hear the sound of nails being chewed all over the Steel City. In approximately seven days, we’ll find out how frequently Mr. Hyde replaces Dr. Jekyll between the pipes at Consol Energy Center, if at all.
We all know what has happened to the affable stopper in recent post-seasons. Since winning the Stanley Cup in dramatic fashion in 2009, his save percentages in all ensuing playoffs have begun with an “8”. Consequently, his GP column for those springs is exclusively filled with single digits. He has, in a word, looked spooked.
Perhaps an exorcist is in order. At the very least, Pens fans will take a swapping of ghosts – that Hasek spirit from last night will do very nicely.