2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Lose your job to a 22-year-old, the team goes onto to win the Stanley Cup. Next season guy who took your job goes down with an injury in game one of the playoffs, and you’re called upon. Yeah, of course, you play tremendous and lift your team through the playoffs.
2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Have people forgotten what Marc-Andre Fleury went through last year when Pittsburgh won the Stanley Cup, and parts of this year too. Fleury went from playing 58 games at the end of the 2015-2016 season, getting ready to start the playoffs, to have first-year goaltender Matt Murray take over the starting job to lift Pittsburgh to the Stanley Cup. Fleury was rumored to go at the trade deadline this season, dealing with trade talks, speculation of leaving a team you’ve been with 13 years. Fleury played two games all playoffs last year and split time with Murray this season. Fleury had 34 games started and Murray had 47 games started. Numbers mean nothing in what I’m trying to state here.
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32-year-old Fleury loses his starting job to a 22-year-old in the Stanley Cup playoffs, after being rumored to be traded at the trade deadline and much of the regular season, then called upon this playoff run after Murray goes down with an injury. A number of thoughts that must have been running through Fleury’s mind after the coach told him he’s in for Game 1 against Columbus are indescribable. While Fleury lost his job for the playoffs and regular season, the 32-year-old has been quite the force in between the pipes for Pittsburgh this playoff run.
Although Pittsburgh dominated Columbus, Fleury was still a factor in the series. In Pittsburgh first two wins, Fleury turned away 31 shots in game one and 39 in game two. After losing game four and letting up 5 goals, Fleury bounced back with a 49 save performance to help Pittsburgh advance. Going onto to the face the best team in the NHL, back to back President’s trophy winners, without your #1 defensemen, Fleury stood tall for Pittsburgh in games one and two, after losing game three, Fleury yet again bounced back and posted a 36 save performance Wednesday night. Fleury has allowed nine goals on 142 shots against one of the best offensives in the NHL.
Now without a #1 defensemen, #1 center, and Matt Murray out, Marc-Andre Fleury has answered the bell for Pittsburgh, while possibly carrying this Pittsburgh team back to the Eastern Conference finals. With Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel playing big minutes for Pittsburgh the spotlight gets taken off Fleury a bit. With the recent Sidney Crosby hit and injury, much of the series has surrounded Crosby’s injury. But don’t forget this was a guy who lost his starting job the year his team won the Stanley Cup and was rumored to be traded all year. He has quite arguably been the best player for Pittsburgh. For what Fleury is doing right now is admirable from a fan perspective, the adversity Fleury is managing and overcoming right now is truly amazing. Give up to the 32-year-old goaltender he has been the backbone of this Pittsburgh team and the biggest story of the playoffs.