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Fleury Shines in Vegas Debut – Pittsburgh Penguins – PenguinPoop Blog

Fleury Shines in Vegas Debut

Last night was a good one for former Penguins. Especially if they happened to wear a Vegas Golden Knights uniform.

Playing in his first game for his new team, Marc-Andre Fleury was simply magnificent. The willowy netminder made 45 saves to backstop the Golden Knights to a thrilling 2-1 victory over Dallas in their inaugural game.

It was the most saves ever by an expansion goalie in his team’s first win. Ironically, the old mark was set by the Pens’ Hank Bassen way back in 1967.

Needless to say, “Flower” put on a show. At his acrobatic best, No. 29 stopped a deflection by the Stars’ Jamie Benn early in the second period, then slid across the crease on his pads to deny a quick follow-up by Tyler Seguin.

Following a stop in play, new teammate Jonathan Marchessault skated past in wide-eyed amazement to offer his compliments. Flower flashed one of those 100-megawatt smiles we’d come to love through the years.

He was in his glory, displaying those extraordinary reflexes and making big saves for his team. None larger than in the third period, when he used his patented poke check to foil Alexander Radulov on a breakaway with the game on the line.

To one’s surprise, he earned the game’s No. 1 star.

Fleury wasn’t the only ex-Pen to shine. Only recently recovered from off-season hand surgery, James Neal potted two third-period goals to ignite a Vegas rally. The big power forward was named No. 3 star.

“I’m real happy for Nealer,” Fleury said. “He’s a guy that is always hungry to get more goals and to get wins. Coming back from surgery also, and then he got two big goals for us.”

David Perron (five shots on goal) and Deryk Engelland (18:37 of ice time) also skated for the Golden Knights, giving the victory a strong Steel City flavor.

In the wake of the terrible events that unfolded in Las Vegas only days before, Fleury’s thoughts turned to his new home.

“It’s such a tragedy,” Fleury said during a postgame interview. “We can’t undo what happened. We’ll do our best. We’ll work as hard as we can to make the city proud of us and try to maybe get a little change of mind a bit when they come to a game.”

More Ex-Pens

Chris Kunitz played in his first game for Tampa Bay last night. The four-time Cup winner registered two hits during the Lightning’s 5-3 win over Florida.

Matt Cullen and Trevor Daley faced each other in Detroit on Thursday night. Daley logged 21:33 of ice time to help the Red Wings down the Wild, 4-2. Anaheim spoiled Rick Tocchet’s Arizona coaching debut, beating the Coyotes, 5-4, in comeback fashion.

On Wednesday night, Eric Fehr and Ron Hainsey helped pace Toronto to a 7-2 rout of Winnipeg. The black-and-gold alum combined for nearly 20 minutes of shorthanded ice time.

*Be sure to check out Rick Buker’s books,
 
available at TriumphBooks.com, Amazon.com, and BarnesandNoble.com

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24 Comments

  1. Jim's Gravatar Jim
    October 7, 2017 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    Just got my wish Rick. A shut out. God does answer prayers and against Nashville to boot. Sweet.
    Cheers Rick,

  2. the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
    October 7, 2017 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Hey All,

    Just saw an article saying that Sully is shaking up the line-up. The only problem is he isn’t moving any players in and out, just shuffling the deck with who is already there. My concern is that he is dropping Sheary to 3rd line. Sheary has never been able to really do much in a bottom 6 role. He is too light. He is in all likely hood being set up for failure.

    However, I am glad to see Cole being reunited with Schultz but I would much rather see Ruhwedel in paired with Maatta and Hunwick on the bench.

  3. Jim's Gravatar Jim
    October 7, 2017 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    Great post Rick. Nice to see the former alumni doing so well. With MAF playing well he gives the Knights some hope. Unfortunately given the calibre of talent in the Western Conference that he must face on a nightly basis ,45 shots a game will probably be a regular occurrence for him. I wonder how he will look after playing 40 games. The expert still say the Vegas knights will not make the playoffs. I really hope they’re wrong.
    In your previous post you had an excellent discussion with various pens poop contributors about the 10 to 1 Shellacking by the Chicago Blackhawks.It will be interesting to see how the team respond In the next few games.

    Hoping for a shut out tonight.
    Cheers

    • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
      October 7, 2017 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

      Hey Jim,

      It is going to be interesting to see how Vegas progresses as a team. With all of the draft picks they are grabbing up, you would think that eventually there will be some gems, but they will need some veteran leadership. It is hard to think of James Neal as a veteran leader with his temper.

      • Jim's Gravatar Jim
        October 7, 2017 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

        Hey coach,
        You’re absolutely right about the Vegas Knights developing over the next few years into a contender given all the high draft picks and young talent in their system. Rick Tochett will have his hands full when the Knights finally figure out how to play the NHL style game. I desperately hope that a rivalry can be developed between Arizona, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Anaheim. I guess you could add Dallas, San Jose, and possibly Nashville to the list as well. No matter what Coach Arizona has to find ways to put more paying customers in the seats .
        As far as James Neal is concerned I too find it a little strange that he will be looked upon to become a Sidney Crosby type leader for his team. But stranger things have happened in the past in the NHL so nothing will surprise me.He is certainly not my first choice.
        Cheers

        • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
          October 7, 2017 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

          Hey Jim,

          Truthfully, I am hoping Az moves back up North to your neck of the woods. I think Quebec and Hamilton would be better venues than Az but I don’t want to water the league’s talent pool any lower with another ridiculous expansion.

  4. the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
    October 7, 2017 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    Hey Rick,

    Good to her about the Flower’s success. As a confirmed stat geek, I love looking at different stats. Looking back at the stats from that game, even though Vegas ceded 46 shots on goal, the average shot length (my new favorite stat) was 40 feet. The other night when Chicago pummeled the Pens goalies, the average shot length was 28 or 29 feet I can’t remember now, and there many, many shots less than 20 feet.

    Which comes to my question, how is it that an expansion team can protect their slot and zone so, so much better than the defending Stanley Cup Champs?

    Unfortunately, our favorite flightless fowl really didn’t have much time to make adjustments, or is it a case of “fortunately they didn’t have much time to wallow in self-pity over the whipping they received. But I am willing to bet that Murray is hoping that his compatriots actually play tonight rather than play the role of spectators again. He could use some of those 40 foot plus shots to pad his Sv%.

    I don’t know if it is good news or bad news, but the Preds are 0-1 and the Pens are 0-1-1. Next question, which of last years Cup finalists will get their first win?

    • Jim's Gravatar Jim
      October 7, 2017 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

      Hey coach,
      I too love that shot distance statistic. It’s certainly tells a lot about the team defence and the ability of our team to minimize great scoring opportunities.
      I keep having this recurring nightmare that since we lost Cullen and Bonino we are very exposed from the 8 to 15 foot range where most of the goals are scored in the NHL in the regular season. What did you call it? Net presence? That is what I’m worried about my friend. Cullen was very under rated! Kunitz too.
      Good comments Coach.
      Cheers

      • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
        October 7, 2017 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

        Hey Jim

        I think you hit the nail on the head Jim, where we are missing Cullen and Bonino most and to a lesser extend Kunitz, is their ability to cover-up for our weak D’s defense of their own net. The back door has been wide open in both of our first two games. The D has also been unable to keep players out from in front or tie up their sticks.

    • October 7, 2017 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      Hey tOR, Weird, the stats that I saw had Dallas with 67% of their shots close compared to Chicago’s 62%. I didn’t look at it real close and may have been missreading it (I do that often 🙂 , but here is the page on NHL.com:

      http://www.nhl.com/stats/enhanced?navid=nav-sts-adv

      I really think Letang is the big problem right now. Someone needs to put a leash on him. Everyone always jumps the gun and blames the defenseman that you see getting beaten on a 3-1 when it’s the guy who is not there that is the problem.

      Letang already has 8 giveaways, double that of the next closest player and the leagues worst +/- at -7. On top of that, he has completely forgot again how to set up guys for one timers on the Powerplay. He better get it together fast!

      • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
        October 7, 2017 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

        Hey Phil,

        Interesting look at Letang. I haven’t looked too closely at his stats yet, but from an eye test,he really hasn’t impressed me with anything other than his skating ability. I am a loss for why he is on the PP when Schultz would seem to be the better PP QB, his shot is more accurate and his release is much quicker. Not surprising, now that I am looking his D partner is second worst +/-.

        On the plus side Letang’s COrsi is still top 3 on the team. In fact, although no Penguin D man has a 50%+ CORSI, Hunwick has the worst by far at 42.42%, his partner in the first 2 games has the second worst at 45.15%

        I tried using that link but it just took me to site explaining what the acronyms mean. What I did was look at the NHL team stats, set up the parameters for just 10/5 games and the Points/penalties per 60 minutes (That is where they list average shot length) to get Chicago’s avg shot length, then reset the dates to 10/6 games to get Dallas’ avg shot length.

        I think the stat you were looking at was their Team CORSI stats when the score was close. NHL.com doesn’t call it CORSI, they call it SAT% and then tease out that stat for Leading, Trailing, and Close scores. The SAT stands for Shot Attempts.

        So I think what you saw was confirmation that both Dallas and Chicago took more shot attempts than Pittsburgh or Vegas, not a discussion of shot distance.

        Good news is tonight is another game and the past is the past. If the team turns it around this will all be remembered as a bad dream,

        Go Pens

        • October 7, 2017 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

          It’s not going to be easy for the Pens this year. I remember back in the 80’s when the Pens were stinking it up. Every time The Islanders, Habs or Edmonton came to town you can tell the team was trying harder. Now Pens are the big ticket opponent, which by the way is probably why they got screwed with the schedule.

          I really think the Penguins will get back to defensive basics tonight, making sure everyone stays back. It seems to be what they do when they’re on a bad streak.

          • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
            October 7, 2017 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

            Hey Phil,

            Good point! Why were the Pens risking injury to stars in a game that was out of reach. Mind you, I still am not seeing any value in Reaves, but why not give all those guys quality ice time to save the big boys and maybe give the 3rd and 4th lines a chance to get their legs.

      • Jim's Gravatar Jim
        October 7, 2017 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

        Hy Phil,
        I took so much crap about trading Letang last year, I was afraid to say anything about him last game.He has this GOLDEN HALO around his head like Sid and Geno and God help any one who says differently. Letang was terrible. I thought he was just trying to show everyone he is still # 1 and Schultz is # 2.
        Thanks for the stat..Minus 7 in two games and you pay 7.3 million a year.
        I might as well start again where I left off last year.. NOT IF PHIL, but WHEN the brass decides we need to do something drastic to change our line up, ( about game # 25 or so ), trade Letang. We won it all last year with out him and we can do it again if we get the right 3 or 4 players to change our mix. ( 3rd line Center, a big Left Winger, and 2 D men.)
        Hope I am wrong again, but for me Letang based on his play to date, is not the 4 th or 5 th best player on our 2017 Pens team.
        Thanks for the update Phil

        • October 7, 2017 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

          Hey Jim, I actually thought Sully for the first time in years had Letang playing to his potential last year. In saying that, I don’t believe my idea of his potential is anywhere near anyone else’s idea. He is a great skater, but his hockey smarts has never seemed to be there. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

          On a side note, I have no idea why the 4th line and Reeves didn’t get more ice time last game after it was out of hand. I kept thinking someone good was going to get hurt.

        • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
          October 7, 2017 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

          Hey Jim,

          How about this, Letang for Duchene straight up? Col is looking for D and Pgh can flip Duchene to wing at times to let Mckegg get Center work on the third line as well.

          Problem here though is I don’t think the rest of the league inflates Letang’s value as much as Pgh does.

          • October 7, 2017 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

            I would do it, I think Rutherford would also. We would need to trade a winger like Hagelin or Wilson for a solid backup defenseman though.

            • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
              October 7, 2017 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

              Rick may get mad at me, but I have no problem flipping Wilson (hmm I hadn’t thought about that wording until I wrote it but that is funny flip Wilson?) for a D man. The way Kuhnhackl is asserting himself I would reward him, and the way Rust can play utility, filling just about everywhere and do it well, I would trade Wilson before his stock could drop.

            • October 7, 2017 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

              Ah. The Devil made you do it!

            • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
              October 7, 2017 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

              That’s funny!

              Just saw Butcher picked up three assists in his rookie debut against the Avs. Hmmm and his agent did express a willingness to talk to us about signing him.

          • Jim's Gravatar Jim
            October 7, 2017 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

            In a heart beat Coach.I will even come from New Brunswick to help him pack !!!
            haha.. Good idea.

        • 55 on Point's Gravatar 55 on Point
          October 8, 2017 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

          Jim,

          I’m with you. I’ve never understood what the cult of Letang is all about, either. I thought they should have traded him a few years ago. Plus, historically speaking, you know he’s going to get hurt again. That’s the way he plays the game. The problem with trading him, as tOR so sagely stated, is the only place Letang has true believers is here in Pittsburgh, even in most of the media, too. I’d be surprised if the Avs would deal Duchene straight up for Letang.

          -55

          • Jim's Gravatar Jim
            October 8, 2017 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

            Hi 55
            I think that is the problem with a lot of our team.We way over value them. Case in point.
            Connor Sheary scoring 23 goals.
            Who wants a 5’7″, 155 # wisp playing on a serious NHL contender. We have kids playing grade 9 School Boy ( Midget) Hockey bigger than that. Take him off of Crosby’s line and he is a liability. But people think he is the next coming of Cam Neely ! Sorry to disappoint you folks.
            Good to hear from you..

            • the Other Rick's Gravatar the Other Rick
              October 8, 2017 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

              Amen Jim


            

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