Earlier today, it was announced that Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was named the leagues third star for the opening week of action.
Fleury won each of his first two starts against the Devils and Sabres by scores of 3-0 and 4-1, respectively. In those two starts, Flower posted a 0.50 goals against average, as well as a .979 save percentage, through 120 minutes of action. After recording his 23rd career shutout during the season opener at home against New Jersey, MAF was able to extend his goalless streak until late in the third period against Buffalo, when Thomas Vanek was able to finally redirect one past Fleury.
His shutout streak 0f 115:06 set a Penguins franchise record, shattering the pervious record of 66 minutes that Fleury set in the 2006-2007 season.
Finishing ahed of Fleury in the number 1 and 2 spots were Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin and Montreal center Lars Eller.
If there was one member of the Pens that needed a huge confidence boost early in the season, it was Fleury. After yet another playoff collapse against the Islanders in the playoffs last spring, many Pens fans were calling for Fleury’s head on a platter, demanding that GM Ray Shero either trade him or use one of the teams two compliance buyouts on him. Any doubt as to who the Penguins starting goalie for the 2013 season would be went away early last week when it was announced that backup and playoff hero Tomas Vokoun would be out 3-6 months recovering from a blood clot in his pelvis.
Fleury needed to step up to the plate, and, at least for the time being, he has. Having said that, he has had some serious help.
The Penguins as a team are playing much tighter defense as a unit (thank new assistant Jacque Martin for that), and are giving up fewer tough shots for Fleury to stop, which is even more amazing when you consider that they are doing so without star d-man Kris Letang. He has also had the benefit of playing two teams that aren’t exactly considered offensive powerhouses in New Jersey and Buffalo, and has only been really tested on five or six tough shots.
Still, credit where credit is due, Fleury has given the Pens every chance to win so far, and they have capitalized on it.
As for those playoff collapses? Well, we’ll have to wait till April and see, but I have a sneaking suspicion that MAF’s postseason woes are behind him.