Fleury’s netminding still cause for concern

Updated: October 24, 2010 at 10:15 am by Patrick Davey

Marc-Andre Fleury is still a long way away from the form that won his team the Stanley Cup.

Four games played and Fleury still does not have a save percentage of .900, leading to Brent Johnson seeing more time in goal than would have been expected.

Johnson has been absolutely stellar in his four starts, with four wins from four, and 30 and 31 save efforts against division rivals New Jersey and Philadelphia. His save percentage was at worst .917 against the New York Islanders, giving up two goals against, but still getting the win from Alex Goligoski’s overtime game-winner.

Fleury’s worst was a .714 outing against Toronto, making only 10 saves as the Penguins lost their third straight at their new home, giving fans at Consol Energy Center an icy housewarming. The igloo that saw the 2009 playoffs turn around on Jordan Staal’s shorthanded goal in game 4 is now lost in time, even if just across the road, and the 18,087
fans inside the new home will need more help from “The Flower” if they want to dream of the promised land again.

Coincidentally it was not Marc-Andre Fleury that got the honour of the first home win at the new arena, but Brent Johnson.

Fleury’s first win of the season came last night against Nashville, just as we enter Fantasy Week 3.

That’s a long time coming for anyone who drafted him as an elite netminder, or any fantasy player who put their trust in him at all for that matter. Especially when Fleury’s main upside in fantasy is in the wins column playing for a strong team like Pittsburgh. This poor start definitely gives a strong sense of decline in the former no.1 overall draft pick of 2003; I really hope he can get it together soon.

Unlike Ryan Miller, or Martin Brodeur, Fleury is really not a consistent multi-category fantasy producer, and when in fantasy each category like goals against average, save percentage really is like a league in itself, inconsistency
in both is not an option. Certainly it seems as though Fleury has fallen out of the elite tier of goaltenders, with
a 2.67 and 2.65 GAA the past two seasons, and not much to offer besides, with 5 shutouts combined over that timespan.

Fleury is only 25, but is definately showing signs of fatigue after 306 total games in the league, and 67 last year. His reactions so far have been a lot slower, he is often looking in the other direction when the puck goes in, and his lateral movement is especially worrying, considering that being his speciality as an athletic goaltender.

When there are so many young goaltenders who will just need one season in the NHL to establish themselves as an elite, or at least very reliable fantasy option, like last year’s breakouts Tuukka Rask (45 games, 1.97GAA) and Jaroslav Halak (45 games, 2.40GAA), Fleury desperately needs to re-establish himself and prove that playoff-level experience counts for not only something, but everything.

Or will the two-headed monster of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin be so explosive that Fleury won’t have to worry about losing his job?

With an increased ownership of 28% to 35 percent, fantasy owners are taking Brent Johnson seriously, and that number will only increase further as long as Dan Bylsma gives him the ice time he rightly deserves.

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