Marc-Andre Fleury Misplays A Puck at the End of the Game, Costs Pens The Lead/Game

The Pittsburgh Penguins were about to win the game. The Columbus Blue Jackets were down 3-2 and had their goalie pulled in desperation. The Blue Jackets were bringing all night, outshooting the Pens 41-24 in regulation. Up until the last 24 seconds of the game, Marc-Andre Fleury was simply brilliant, stopping 39 of 41 shots. But then......this happened.

Fleury probably makes that play 9 out of 10 times. Unfortunate bounce, but at that point in the game you do not want your goaltender leaving the net in that situation. On the other hand, Fleury pretty much had to play the puck, as Columbus was going to win the race to the puck anyways. In the end, the decision to play the puck ending up being a disastrous decision for Fleury, as Columbus scored thanks to a bad bounce and wide-open net. 

As you can imagine, the Pens' fan base was not too happy with that play by Fleury. A spew of "Fleury sucks" and "Put in Vokoun" tweets and Facebook statuses flooded social media. Not defending that play by Fleury, but Columbus was the better team all game, and Fleury was the main reason the Pens had the lead, making some incredible saves 39 saves in regulation altogether. The other two goals that Fleury allowed during regulation both came when the Pens were on the penalty-kill, and neither were Fleury's fault.  For the game, the Pens got outshot 46-29, I guess that is Fleury's fault as well. 

As you can imagine, people were already wondering if that play at the end of regulation would mess with Fleury's mental state. Well, if the goal he allowed in overtime, (A rather weak one to be honest) is any indication of how he  is going to rebound from that nightmare of a play in regulation, it  is not looking so good. Weak shot from the point, and completely unscreened, that  is  a save that Fleury needs to make. Might need to make an emergency session with that sports psychologist.

This game isn't totally on Fleury though. Crosby had zero points, and was a minus-two. Crosby has gone eight straight playoff games without a goal. Evgeni Malkin didn't have a shot on goal in the game, and the Penguins as a team didn't have a shot on goal in the final ten minutes. The power play continued to suck, going 0-6, and the Pens are now 2-18 on the power play in the last three games. Paul Martin was pretty good though, and now leads all players in the playoffs in points. 

As for Fleury, this will be talked to death until game five. Fleury blew the lead, and was definitely a reason why they lost the game, but does one bad play at the end of regulation really undermine 59 minutes of a brilliantly played game? I guess that answer depends on who you ask. 

A lot of big media players are already suggesting that the Pens bench Fleury. That list includes Barry Melrose, Andrew Ference, and Adam Lambert. Locally, both Josh Yohe and Dejan Kovacevic have both used common sense to understand that one mistake shouldn't cost Fleury his job. If you look at the entire playoffs, Fleury has actually been really good. In fact, out of the 15 goalies that have started at least three games, Fleury has the fourth best save percentage in five-on-five situations. At some point, Fleury's critics need to understand that the five guys in front of him have an impact on when the other team scores. I know it's easy to blame Fleury, or any goalie, just like it's easy to blame the quarterback whenever a football team wins. That's just the way it goes. 

The Pens shouldn't bench Fleury, not right now. That would be an idiotic decision. Fleury has been one of the Pens' best players in this series. If you're going to bench him for one big mistake, then the Pens should have benched a bunch of other players by now. 

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About Mad Chad

Steelers, Pens, Pirates....Yup
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  1. Get him a for sale sign for the house & 1 way bus ticket out of the burg.
    He has sucked the last 2 playoffs & on his way to 3.Face it he isnt as good as some would like to think. We have a golie that made "The Save" You have just seen "The Loss"
    How dumb does a golie have to be to come out to play the puck w/25 sec left in a game??