I know it seems like I have a vendetta against Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. Honestly, I don’t. But I was checking out some stats and stumbled upon something that I just had to share with our readers.
There’s a popular notion among Pens fans that Fleury is—or was—an elite playoff goalie. A quick glance at his playoff stats indicate that’s not the case. Based on the numbers the willowy Sorel, Quebec native has had one truly exceptional postseason—and that was in 2008 when we lost to Detroit in the Finals.
For emphasis, here’s a table that compares Fleury’s postseason save percentages with those of the Stanley Cup winning goalies for each year dating back to his first playoff appearance in 2007. The numbers are eye-popping:
|Playoff Year||Fleury’s Save Pct.||Cup Winning Goalie||Cup Winner’s Save Pct.||Fleury Better or (Worse)|
|2007||.880||J-S Giguere, Ana.||.922||(.042)|
|2008||.933||Chris Osgood, Det.||.930||.003|
|2009||.908||M-A Fleury, Pit.||.908||—|
|2010||.891||A. Niemi, Chi.||.910||(.019)|
|2011||.899||T. Thomas, Bos.||.940||(.041)|
|2012||.834||J. Quick, L.A.||.946||(.112)|
|2013||.883||T. Rask, Bos. or C. Crawford, Chi.||.929 or .935||(.046) or (.052)|
Granted, save percentage isn’t a bottom-line indicator of effectiveness. There have been plenty of goalies—Gerry Cheevers, Battlin’ Billy Smith, and Grant Fuhr come to mind—who didn’t post flashy numbers but were winners all the same. Likewise, statistics don’t account for the fact that the Penguins play a fast (and loose) style that often leaves their goaltenders exposed.
Still, I think the numbers underscore how much Fleury’s postseason performances pale in comparison to his peers. It’s especially alarming in light of the fact that the Pens still regard him as a franchise goalie.
Whoever replaces the departed Gilles Meloche as goaltender coach will have his hands full. He’ll need to work long hours to improve “Flower’s” focus, consistency, and fundamentals, while rebuilding his fragile psyche. If the new mentor is up to the task, then hopefully the goalie who was good enough to hoist the Cup in 2009 will re-emerge.