To Play Fleury or Not to Play Fleury…

Amber Alexander asks the question: To Play Fleury or Not to Play Fleury? While also making some observations about the fanbase…

By Amber Alexander

The Pens have finally gotten their game going and are sitting in1st in the Atlantic. When the season started off at 1-3, we saw what the “bandwagon” fans — those that became fans of the Pens during the two runs to the Stanley Cup Final. Those same fans were the ones who booed our team when a pass didn’t connect, a power play went nowhere, or basically said our team was never going to win a Cup again.

Same ole same ole.

When I became a fan of the Pens, twitter wasn’t established yet. But now that it is in full swing, it’s amazing to see fan’s reactions to a loss as well as to a win.

The first four games were hard to watch, but I watched every second of them. I defended our team and yes, even our goalie. I was thankful that I was only “following” the faithful Penguins’ followers on twitter.

They were the same way: “This game’s over, there’s no changing the time, or score.”

I had written an article for FTP the day of the loss to Montreal. I was ecstatic for the game, much like the rest of the Penguin fans. The article was about our fan base and how it differs from other fan bases around the league.

“We don’t boo our players when they make a bad play,” I stated. “We don’t boo them off the ice at the end of a bad game.”

“And we NEVER mock cheer our goalie who isn’t having the best game.”

But I guess I was wrong. The game against Montreal was an embarrassment for both fans and players.

Yeah our team lost, so what? Our fans were even more embarrassing.

Watching the game online, I heard both mock cheers and booing for our team.

OUR team.

I had already sent Brian the article and after the game, I asked him not to publish it. I didn’t want anyone to read it and think we had the best fan base because that night… we didn’t.

We all know how hockey goes. You win some and you lose some. Now that we are back on track, there’s another debate going on. Do we stick with the hot hand in Brent Johnson or do we go back to our number one, Marc Andre Fleury — the guy who help us win the Stanley Cup in 2009.

If you follow me on twitter than you might have noticed me wanting to start Flower in Nashville on Thursday. You might have also noticed me wanting to start Flower last night.

Brent Johnson said it well when asked about Fleury. “This is his team,” Johnson said.

What frustrates me is the way that Fleury is being treated by fans. He didn’t play that badly in net. Yes we lost, and yes he let in some soft goals, but if you watched the entire game you would have seen him make some huge saves.

Johnson has no pressure on him; he’s having the time of his life. And why shouldn’t he? He deserves it. But at the end of the day, Johnson is still the backup to Fleury — the same guy who has help this team win a ton of hockey games and including a Stanley Cup Championship.

Whether you like it or not, Fleury will always be the number 1 goaltender for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

We just got lucky with Johnson as backup.

***Amber is a hockey fan from the deep south. She prefers a Penguins match-up over any College Football game and enjoys writing about hockey in general. A Journalism major, Amber is a news reporter for her local newspaper. You can follow her on twitter here.


19 Comments on this Post

  1. Amber, I love you. I have been fighting this battle on Bleacher Report where a so-called Pens fan named Alison wrote an article asking if MAF is the most over-rated goalie in the NHL. Go read her article and the comments at:

    She sounds just like the band-wagoners in Detroit who dissed Ozzie until the Wings won another Cup. I had hoped our (the Pens) fans were better than this…..I still hold out hope the majority of us are.

    Keep up the great work. I’ve been a part of the NHL culture for over 40 years and I like the way you think.

  2. Thanks Teri, i’m glad to hear you like it. I just read the article on Bleacher. I used to write on there but quickly realized that it wasn’t the best site for information. There’s a lot of frustration in reading those articles.

    But it looks like Flower has his chance tomorrow against Nashville cause he’s starting so let’s see how he does.

  3. Nice read Amber…

    I just went through that article and a lot of the comments… So many people want to throw Fleury under the bus. Apparently when you give up some goals they are all the goalies fault.

    I have made no bones that MAFfa is my favorite player, maddening at times, but my favorite none the less.

    I find it amusing that so many people are concerned about the start he is having, he will be fine. winning 9 out of 11 playoff series is not a bad thing. The arguments people make against saying he wins those series (goal support) are the same for him losing them (no goal support).

    I can say he has started poorly but I think by the end of the year he will have a GAA under 2.5 and a S% above .910. Not that he is a statistical gem of a goalie anyway, it is and always has been about making the right save at the right time, and the last series he played in, well he wasnt up to the task.

    I think the ‘new generation’ of fans have been spoilt and expect a cup run every year and perfection every year, it is not going to happen that way all the time, as you have said, older hockey fans get it, the newbies will get it over time.

  4. I also just about wrote a comment on the ‘overrated’ article like yourself but I couldn’t draw myself to do it…

    No point, it is just a ‘what have you dont for me lately’ type of article.

  5. I always thought Fleury was a good goalie but not great. Is he overrated? I wouldn’t say that just yet but with what I would consider a subpar season last season and slow start so far this season I can understand why people might be thinking he’s overrated.

    Sure he makes some great saves but he allows too many soft goals on a consistant basis. For the money he makes he needs to be much better. And when you consider usually a soft goal tends to be a backbreaker it makes it that much worse. Yes goalies are going to go through their stretches where they struggle but to struggle through a good portion of the season last year was more than just a stretch.

    As far as the fans are concerned, you’re always going to ones that overreact but also there are ones that try to justify everything because they are a pens fan and don’t want to hear anything negative said about the team or players. Fleury is expected to play thursday and I read play 2 of the next 3 games so we’ll see what happens. I like Fluery and am giving him this season to turn it around but if he doesn’t that could make two straight subpar seasons and you can’t help but understand if fans really become skeptical of him.

  6. I just cant see how a 2nd round exit is sub par from last year?
    He had a sub par defense in front of him and the whole team was sub par.

    It really is a what have you done for me lately thing with goalie’s and a lot of the Penguins fans…. People forget that Malkin had a ‘down’ year and we dont have fans getting on his back for not being at his usual 1.33 PPG pace.

    For as good as Miller and Luongo are, they still have not won a Stanley Cup. Luongo has always, and I mean ALWAYS choked in the big games. Fleury has come up big every time he has been expected to, bar last year against Montreal. I’ll take The young 29’er and his big game mentality any day over statistical brilliance because with the team he has in front of him, they should win more playoff series than they lose.

    *Usual disclaimer, he is my favorite pen, as frustrating as his soft goals are, the amount of games he keeps this team in, in the 1st period when the team is not switched on, is why they were one of the best come from behind teams in the league.

  7. OneSmugPug

    Sorry, I finished the article then hit the link for Bleacher Report….I’m still laughing 10 hours later. Yes, Fleury gets blame and no, not all of it deserved. Fleury’s skill sets are ridiculous for a goalie, but his tendencies (which are correctable) need to change. This is why I largely have to ask what the heck is Gilles Meloche is doing with him.

    In a perspective, a goalie is “highlight” position, like quarterbacks in football. If you only go by box score numbers, you can see that a QB may have thrown 3 INTS but it doesn’t mention anything about a receiver who may have bobbled the ball or a deflection of a lineman’s helmet….just INT +1. Naturally, the QB gets heat anyway. Goalies are much the same way, Fleury may let in 3 goals, but how many times last season die we see the D mishandle east/west passes that went the other way on a breakaway…while Fleury will get a few, the odds aren’t in his favor that he will get them all, once again, no box score reflects that.

    Trust me when I say, there are people in this world who would have you believe that John Curry is the future of Penguins goaltending….

  8. Evilpens

    OSP why do you CONSTANTLY belittle people who have the opposite view of Hockey than you?? Nobody who questions MAF Mental & Emotional stability is thinking that Curry is the Future, That is to be nice Asinine The Guy was in the locker room after his DREADFUL “Performance all series Long Crying, That came from Elliote Friedman, Not exactly a Hack

    The Problem With MAF is he has NO Goalie coach of any significance Gilles Meloche is a Scout/Pens Goalie coach/WB/S Goalie Coach, Really what he is , is Mario’s Buddy

  9. OneSmugPug

    EP, I don’t mind anyone having a differing opinion ever. I welcome it. Some websites are notorious for trying to be reporters when they fall short, the one in question here is berated by both bloggers and media alike. Heck, I enjoy the banter…. I don’t disguise my opinions, I don’t pretend to be a reporter, but I’d like to think that I don’t erupt after 2 or 3 games. Why blow a gasket about Fleury after 4 games, I said it then, and I’ll say it now….give me 10 games, I’ll have a better opinion. Johnson has been great, but so has the team in front of him. It’s a gray area… I’m not going to call for a crucifixion over that. Like you, EP, people are welcome to challenge my opinions that’s fine but why should I have to ride the same bandwagon as everyone else. As far as belittling goes, I am a fan, not a reporter. I openly acknowledge this fact. Outside of Twitter, I do very little jobbing of anyone. A reader directed this piece to an article, so I went there to take a look. I noted the author and knew what I was in for. So if I make a remark based on what a reader suggested I look at, then I will do it. You don’t have to agree, heck, you don’t even have to read it…. I am going with the fact that I validate a reader’s opinion would suggest that I DON’T always belittle everyone’s opinion. In fact, EP, you and I almost never agree….and I never rip on you for it, eh?

  10. I’m confused on why EvilPen is reading a Pens article?

  11. Evilpens

    Amber That is a Conglomeration Of My Initials E V L & The Fact that I am am a HUGE Pens Fan!!

    OSP,They are Not a Better team, They are without their Shutdown Defensive Pair Orpik & Michalek, They Have to rely on Gogo & Lovejoy as their 2nd D Pairing. The HUGE difference has Been Solid & At times Spectacular Goaltending & an uptick in goal scoring, But the Solid Goaltending has given them a chance to win these games

  12. OneSmugPug

    Ep, you’re a goof…I said they were playing better, not a better team. Trust me, even I laid the “F” Bomb out over Fleury once or twice in this lifetime.

    Even better that you can get Evil from your inititals…the best I can do is Turd or Odd….go figure

  13. Cant argue with the solid goal tending call at the moment. BJ has been good through this patch. Positionally he has been great, making sure he has not had to make any big saves, which is good because he doesn’t have the skill set to make them.

    The back 6 is not great skill wise but they have been playing better hockey in their back end EP, much better at clearing the puck and not leaving it in the middle of the ice for that great scoring chance for BJ to have to save.

    Because of this the the uptick as you said has happened, which has been a big relief, I think the team has started to understand that shooting the puck helps putting the puck in the net, especially on the PP! lol

  14. Evilpens

    OSP They fit you to a T !! : )

  15. Evilpens

    An Actually OSP they are in that order E V L

  16. Evilpens

    3rd Goal Again MAF being the 50 Dollar Crack whore

  17. Evilpens

    Overall MAF was MUCH better !! Still He gives up a goal that Makes you just shake your head

  18. Yeah he gives up the bad one, but he also kept that 4th goal out to bail out an 0-6 PP tonight…

    Glass half full?

  19. Evilpens

    PP is a Joke Gino needs to be on the RW boards so he can be the trigger man & Play Sid down Low near the Goal Line

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