The Snapshot wrote:OK, since we want to start waving the Flower power flag in an I told you so vibe, I'll bite.
The facts are that the recent playoff failures were most especially resultant from Fleury's propensity to give up soft goal after soft goal in playoff games - and any soft goal in a playoff game is difficult to recover from. These goals, regardless of the defensive structure or lack thereof in front of him, were by all accounts stoppable shots. If a shot comes from a certain place on the ice, only a bad goal can result if it goes in. Many of these goals would not even be characterized as legitimate scoring chances. Alas, these goals were not the type of goals the Pens were getting against the opposing goaltender in most of these series.
Why is it so important to simply ignore this simple fact in support of Fleury? Why not just say we hope he is mentally stronger and able to do what he did last night in the playoffs? He clearly has a TON to prove.
It is noteworthy that many of the games we lost in the recent playoff failures were VERY similar to last nights, where the opposing goalie stood on his head and we had a goalie not only NOT make that big glove save, but also allowing one or two more to leak in. Montreal and Tampa were eliminations where we consistently carried the play. The Islanders series was headed down that same toilet except that Bylsma finally decided he had seen that movie before. Losing to Boston, while a sweep was tough to accept, was at least to an arguably superior team who's goalie played lights out.
That is pretty much irrefutable if you watch the tapes back - yet we are supposed to just pretend he's always been good in the playoffs when in reality he has NEVER been consistent night in night out even in the two Cup runs? I still can see from my seats at that end the puck standing on end behind him on a bad angle shot in Game 6 of the '08 Finals at the Igloo. He put that one in with his a** after letting a harmless shot roll up his arm and down his back. That goal was largely the swing point in Game 6 that allowed the Wings to carry the Cup around the Igloo. To get there though in that season in earlier rounds, he showed an ability to bounce back right away from bad outings. He had gained a reputation for immediately playing some of his best games the next try. THAT is all we need perhaps, but instead we see a guy completely fall apart, and people want to find any reason other than that he was a house of cards mentally?
I want SOMEONE to give us solid goaltending night after night in the Playoffs. I think this team, with a few key additions here and there, can win with that. I don't care who it comes from. Vokoun, Zatkoff, Fleury, Hartzell, Jarry......whoever.
To test a hypothesis, you have to have a control. The Boston series was that control. Remove Fleury from the equation = same results. Our team leaders hit the whine button midway through game 1 and the team went on full tilt. They got solid goaltending... and still were decimated. While Boston may have been the better team, they were not THAT much better.
IMO Fleury's leaky goals are a symptom of the problem. Not the problem itself, which falls more under the categories of team leadership and accountability. No doubt, Fleury is a team leader and needs to be accountable for his subpar play, which has only exacerbateed the underlying problem. But blaming him for those loses is like blaming your hangover for making you feel like crap.
Fortunately, I see progress this year. The team has shown some gutsy wins. Fleury is back on the wagon. J. Martin has brought in some new ideas. There are young guys making an impact. But this team lives and dies by how 87 & 71 lead the way. 29, 58, 14, 18 all tend to follow suit.