Starkey: Can Fleury steal the Cup'
Marc-Andre Fleury isn't the reason the Penguins have fallen behind again in this Stanley Cup Final.
He'll have to be the reason if they come back to win it.
He isn't the problem, but he could be the solution.
Let's agree on this: The Detroit Red Wings are the deeper and more talented team, particularly now that star forward Pavel Datsyuk is back.
On their worst day, the Wings direct 69 shots at the other team's net, which is precisely what they did in a Game 4 loss (39 on goal, 15 blocked, 15 wide).
At their best, as in Game 5, they are ridiculous — a sublime blend of speed, toughness, offense, defense, discipline and goaltending.
Here's how deep they are: The likes of Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Nicklas Lidstrom and Marian Hossa practically render powerful winger Johan Franzen to afterthought status.
Franzen would be a 60-goal scorer with the Penguins.
So yes, Detroit is the better team — but the better team doesn't always win, once a series is stretched near its limit.
This is where Fleury comes in (back in, rather, after a mercy pulling in Game 5). As the equivalent of a starting pitcher or a quarterback, he can have a more profound affect on the rest of this series than any of his teammates, including Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, who undoubtedly will come back strong after combining for just two shots in Game 5.
Fleury has the power to win games. We know the Wings will be storming the Penguins' net at times in Game 6, and, if necessary, Game 7. The Penguins need Fleury to be Josh Beckett against the New York Yankees in the 2003 World Series — the guy who evens the talent disparity by virtue of his singular brilliance (Beckett led the Florida Marlins past the mighty Yankees, pitching a complete-game shutout on three days rest in Game 6).
Fleury's teammates strongly believe in him, and for good reason. Though only 24, he has won a lot of big games.
"I've been playing with 'Flower' for five or six years now," defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "I have complete confidence he'll bounce back and be himself."
Asked if he'd said anything to Fleury after Saturday's game, veteran winger Bill Guerin said, "No. He'll get by it. He's a big boy. He knows what he has to do. I mean, what are you going to say to a guy, you know• Everybody's a professional in here. You don't have to coddle guys and babysit guys.
"You let them deal with situations on their own, and they'll be OK."
Fleury, for his part, said he can't wait for Tuesday. He might be the most pleasant, easygoing athlete you'll meet, but his personality belies the ferocious competitor within.
"I'm looking forward to being back in net," he said. "It'll be good to be back home. Just forget about this and move on. Be ready for the next one."
Normally not one to react negatively to questions, Fleury rolled his eyes and shook his head when a reporter asked him to appraise his performance after Game 5.
"Well, obviously we lost, 5-0," he said, "so I can't be happy."
Fleury wasn't to blame, even though he gave up five goals on 21 shots; it was a team-wide meltdown.
He was not the reason they lost it.
He'll have to be the reason they win it.
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.
- Based on glowing recommendation, Pens hire Agnew as assistant
- Penguins re-sign Megna, Samuelsson to 1-year deals
- Some of the top prospects in Penguins system to be in town for camp
- Downie: Joining Penguins ‘made sense’