Big Lead Sports Bar

2/22/2007

The Lonesome Goalie

Penguins coach Michel Therrien found his fall guy for the end of the Pens' recent consecutive points streak, and his name is Marc-Andre Fleury. Therrien becomes another in a long line of Pittsburgh coaches publicly criticizing their key contributors, as he's obviously watched many a tape of Bill Cowher brow-beating kickers and punters during his tenure as Steeler coach.
If only Fleury could have held off the Isles for another 27 seconds on Monday, we might not have this discussion. Of course, MAF did allow five other goals, so he didn't exactly help his own cause in that President's Day disappointment.
I'm a Fleury fan. I enjoy his play, I enjoy his personality, I like the guy a lot. He's one of my favorites on the team. Although it may seem I was recently critical of him, that wasn't the intention. I just noticed a few obvious statistical similarities. He is the present and the future between the pipes for the flightless birds. But I think he needs a break, both mentally and physically. This is one tired dude.
For evidence, I ask you to look at the Pens' recent 14-0-2 run. Now examine the final scores. They weren't exactly blowing teams out of the arena. In fact, they played beyond regulation seven times in those games, with two ending in OT and five others ending in shootouts. These were pressure-packed matchups with a playoff urgency and intensity, and he's forced to punch the clock for OT seven times to boot. That's a lot to put on a goalie who is still very, very young in the grand scheme of things.
So MAF will sit by his lonesome, like the sad player pictured below, and ponder life, hockey, and the pursuit of the Canadian Dream tonight at Florida. But don't look at it as a controversy. Fleury is the undisputed man. As he goes, so go the Penguins. Let him clear his head, give Thibault some work, and hopefully we'll have a tandem playing in high gear long into the spring.

2 comments:

Dirty Sanchez said...

I see nothing wrong with the move. Therrien isn't creating a goalie controversy, Fleury is still the undisputed #1. Thibault is playing well, it gives MAF a rest for the brutal March schedule, and lets him know that he needs to pick up his game a bit and not rely on the Pens scoring 5 goals every night.

worstavid said...

The best thing that Therrien could do would be to say, "Thibault, you're in goal until you lose. Marc-Andre, you'll get the crease back when he gives it back to you."

Now you have not one, but two goalies who are playing at a highly focused level to win. And if the Pens continue to win, does it really matter if Thibault or Fleury is in there, as long as they're winning? Let these two guys compete against each other as well as the opposing team.