Penguins goaltender Fleury taking all-business approach
Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury skated onto Consol Energy Center ice Sunday for a practice attended by about 4,000 fans.
And he was all business.
Fleury has always been a fierce competitor, but a newfound seriousness has been evident during the past month.
“We have all the confidence in the world in him,” defenseman Robert Bortuzzo said. “I don't think we ever worried about him. And he does look really hungry.”
In the locker room, Fleury is a popular man. From captain Sidney Crosby on down, the Penguins publicly and privately profess their belief that Fleury was and remains an elite goaltender.
“We've never stopped believing in Flower,” Crosby said.
Still, questions abounded in a turbulent summer for Fleury, who was removed from the net following a Game 4 implosion in the first round of the playoffs against the New York Islanders. What followed were regular sessions with a sports psychologist.
Fleury remains understandably quiet about those sessions. He still smiles around teammates and remains unfailingly cooperative with the media. Some of the shenanigans that were once a hallmark — playfully interacting with fans during practices, for instance — have been toned down. He still has some fun on the ice, but not like in the old days.
So far, so good.
“Flower's been so great,” center Brandon Sutter said. “You can talk all you want about playing better defensively in front of him and stuff like that. And that's obviously important. But the fact is, in these first two games, he's been really, really good.”
Almost perfect, actually.
Fleury pitched a shutout in the season opener against New Jersey, using three spectacular saves in the final five minutes to punctuate the effort. He was just as good against Buffalo on Saturday, allowing only one goal on a highlight-reel effort by Sabres star Thomas Vanek. He'll go for another strong performance Tuesday against Carolina.
Fleury doesn't seem especially excited about his start.
“It's just two games,” he said. “Two good games, but only two games.”
He's even changed his pregame approach.Fleury has made a decision to no longer speak with the media on game days, an approach many goaltenders subscribe to.
It's not that he possesses any beefs with members of the media. Rather, Fleury appears interested in quietly rejoining the league's elite.
Through two games he has played with a purpose, avoiding the embarrassing own-goals that have become a trademark in recent years.
Fleury has two seasons remaining on his current contract, and knows this could be a crossroads campaign.
So far, he's playing like a man who intends on being in the Penguins' lineup for many years to come.
“I think he's a great goalie,” defenseman Olli Maatta said. “He's been very focused, very good.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins notebook: Five defensemen dress against San Jose
- Penguins’ Letang leaves hospital, ‘day-to-day’ with concussion
- Hit sends Penguins’ Letang to hospital
- Penguins minor league notebook: WBS players eager for possible NHL playoff call-up
- Penguins notebook: Malkin likely to return Saturday
- Players respect coach, refuse to blame Johnston
- Penguins notebook: Johnston stays with team despite mother’s death
- Penguins defensemen Letang, Martin embrace heavy workload
- Penguins’ Sutter enjoys late-season scoring surge
- NHL scoring continues its decline in March