| Sports

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Pens' Fleury, Bales form winning combination

Getty Images
Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury keeps his eye on the puck against the New Jersey Devils on Thursday, April 25, 2013, at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. His relationship with goaltending coach Mike Bales has resulted in some of the finest, steadiest play of Fleury’s career.

Penguins/NHL Videos

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.
By Josh Yohe
Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, 9:33 p.m.

MONTREAL — If the Penguins celebrate a championship in June, one relationship will have played a large part.

Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and goaltending coach Mike Bales didn't know each other when the Penguins hired Bales this summer. But the result has been some of the finest, steadiest play of Fleury's career.

“Marc-Andre had only one voice and one goalie coach (Gilles Meloche) for a long time,” Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. “That relationship with Mike is still building. It's built on a foundation of trust.”

Fleury said he feels comfortable with Bales, who played more than a decade in North America and overseas.

“It's been really good,” Fleury said. “We've gotten to know each other a little bit.”

There is nothing revolutionary about Bales' teaching methods. He has not, however, orchestrated sweeping changes to Fleury's game. In fact, he doesn't tell Fleury to do anything.

Instead, he makes occasional suggestions.

“It's never me saying, ‘Hey, you've to do this,' ” Bales said. “And it's never him saying, ‘I have to do this.' It's more like, ‘Hey, let's go work on some things.' ”

Fleury has started — and finished — 20 games this season and has allowed more than three goals in a game only twice.

Considering the Penguins' offense has stalled recently, his performance has been necessary to keep the team atop the Metropolitan Division.

“He's just been so good,” center Brandon Sutter said. “He's keeping us in every game.”

Bales faced a seemingly daunting task when he joined the Penguins.

Fleury, 28, appeared to be broken last spring despite being a Stanley Cup champion and a two-time Cup finalist.

Bylsma pulled him in favor of Tomas Vokoun following Game 4 of the opening playoff round against the New York Islanders. Fleury played only once more, a cameo that did not go well during Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final against the Boston Bruins.

Bales, however, discovered Fleury wasn't broken.

“I knew he was very talented,” Bales said. “The only thing that has surprised me a little bit is just how physically talented he is. I didn't realize how gifted he is. With Marc, he can pick up new things and immediately make the adjustment into his game.”

Fleury gets to play in Boston on Monday. When the Penguins last played at TD Garden, Vokoun was in net. Now it's Fleury's show.

Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.



Show commenting policy

Most-Read Penguins

  1. Fleury’s demeanor helps keep Penguins loose, him playing his best
  2. Penguins rally in wake of Dupuis injury
  3. Penguins make moves in advance of roster deadline
  4. With a few older players on roster, Penguins hope to get better with age
  5. Penguins’ prospects could hinge on health of Letang, Maatta
  6. Penguins at a glance entering 2015-16 season
  7. Penguins notebook: Dupuis ruled out of season opener
  8. Plotnikov shines in Penguins’ preseason victory over Lightning
  9. Penguins release Gonchar, send Pouliot down
  10. Kessel addition, better health could have Pens scoring like it’s 1990s
  11. Hansons, Penguins help Johnstown celebrate ‘Hockeyville’ designation