The Pens are back in the series. Many feel that they should be ahead in the series except for the play of one man. Apologies to 8 but Varlamov has been the Capitals best player in all three games. Now it is Mark Andre Fleury’s turn. The Pens still need some other players to help out — Jordan Staal 0 – 1 – 1 -4 and Chris Kunitz 0 – 4 – 4 + 2 (playing on a line with Guerrin and Crosby who are both + 5) in particular. But if the Pens are to win this series and get closer to Lord Stanley’s Cup, Fleury needs to be the Penguins best player, or at least better than Varlamov. Fleury has not been bad to date, just not as good as he can be. He was a first overall pick, a franchise goalie, a difference-maker. Except for Game 4 of the Flyers series, he has not been the difference.
Take a look at the stats of the eight goalies still remaining in the playoffs:
Goalies Save Percentages Goals Against Average Won/Lost
Hiller .955 1.74 (3rd) 6 – 3
Varlamov .942 1.64 (1st) 6 – 3
Thomas .941 1.71 (2nd) 5 – 2
Luongo .935 1.92 6 – 1
Ward .935 2.07 (6th) 6 – 4
Osgood .926 1.96 (5th) 5 – 2
Fleury .913 2.55 5 – 4
Khabibulin .897 2.81 5 – 4
Fleury is seventh in EVERY category. Stanley Cups are generally won by the teams getting the best goal-tending. The stats don’t lie. Right now Fleury is not perfoming to expectations. I am not looking to stir the pot here — just trying to light a little fire under the Penguin goaltender. Fleury must play better. He has the ability, his teammates count on him, and we all know he can do it.
The Penguins now have the opportunity to even things up on Friday night. The excitement generated by the fans on Wednesday night will be dwarfed by the Penguin faithful on Friday night at Mellon Arena. The weekend is here — PLAYOFF HOCKEY IN THE BURGH!!! LET’S GET IT ON!!!!!! That’s the view from E-11.