There are two things for sure about the young man from Sorel, Québec are that he won over the fans and team mates he has in Pittsburgh and he also has evolved from much scrutiny to become one of the elite goaltenders in the NHL.
I know people will argue with me on what I will say next but I truly believe that the man nicknamed “Flower” is in the top 5 of goaltenders in the NHL today.
It seemed at first that Fleury may have been a bust for the Penguins. He came into the NHL off of a very disappointing loss in the World Juniors Gold medal game in which he tried to clear the puck from his crease and shot it off of a player in front of him into his own net. That alone would have caused young players to crumble but Fleury has something alot of pro athletes do not.
Another potential negative situation when Fleuy was a rookie in the NHL is that the Pittsburgh Penguins did not have a goaltending coach to help mold and teach the youngster and he was shuttled back and forth the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and the next season the American Hockey League.
The Penguins ownership also requested to have Fleury sent down whenever he was close to reaching a games played incentive in his contract that would pay him a bonus that the cash strapped owers wanted to avoid at all costs. Again, Fleury has something that others do not.
What is this thing that I am talking about you are thinking. Well, it is an intangible really. Marc Andre Fleury is capable of wiping the slate clean and starting from scratch the next game. I have seen him deal with more controversy and bad games than alot of goaltenders at his age. Fleury can have a game in which he leaves in 8 goals but can then play all world the next game and win 1-0 with 54 saves.
Flower’s ability to be aloof is what makes him a very valuable commodity as he does not get down on himself and does not let things affect his game. He will make not just some of the most acrobatic saves you will ever see but he has the knack to make “the big save” that can turn a game and a play off series around and lead his team to victory. I believe that last season Fleury should have been a finalist for either the Vezina or the Hart as I can not imagine where the team would be without him. No Malkin and no Crosby meant scoring by commitee and the team had to rely on Flower to lead the way.
I believe in Flower…..