I defended him after Game 3, and I still stand by my assessment of those games. But good lord was Fleury awful in Game 6. I never said he was completely beyond blame in the first three losses, but in those there were other glaring inadequacies that led to the Penguins’ demise above and beyond the spotty goaltending. In this one there is no two ways about it: Fleury (or any other NHL-caliber goaltender) should have saved every single shot he faced in Game 6. I still don’t think that he is as awful as he’s made out to be by some people, but there’s no defending a performance like that. To the tape:
Let me preface this by stating that I am not a Fleury fanboy. I think he’s a solid but not spectacular goaltender. He absolutely has to play better. He has sucked in the first three playoff games. He is not off the hook for the Penguins struggles, whatsoever. However I think it’s completely unfair to crucify him as many people, like this guy, have done recently.
How can I defend a goaltender with a 6.34 GAA and a .798 save percentage? Good question.
I can do it by questioning the defensive play in front of him. Just like it’s impossible for a quarterback to succeed without a decent offensive line, it’s impossible for a goalie to succeed if he’s constantly hung out to dry. For every soft goal Fleury has allowed, there have been many others that were directly attributable to selfish, lazy and undisciplined play by the guys in front of him. But don’t take my word for it. Let’s go to the tape.