The highlight of the second day at Pittsburgh Penguins training camp was a scrimmage pitting Sidney Crosby against Evgeni Malkin. The two took the opening faceoff, with Geno claiming victory inside the circle. The scoreboard, however, was totally Sidney's. The Pens captain scored a goal (his second in as many practices), as Kris Letang had a pair and Pascal Dupuis's empty-netter sealed Team Sid's 4-1 win. The combination of Tomas Vokoun and Matt Murray minded the storefront for Crosby's team as the Jeff Zatkoff/Eric Hartzell duo performed goalie duties for Team Malkin. Marc-Andre Fleury was playing for Team Bench. Another day in camp, another wilting petal for Flower.
In Wednesday's scrimmage, the first three shots Fleury saw resulted in three goals. That's a .000 save percentage for the stats-folks at home. The goal scorers? Sidney Crosby (forgivable), Tanner Glass (odd), and Craig Adams (how did– what in the — no, really? Really?). Thus, the season begins where it left off.
Marc-Andre Fleury has been more analyzed and criticized than a Lady Gaga outfit. His collapse against the New York Islanders in the playoffs was supposed to the breaking point. That near disaster was surely going to cost him his starting job and roster spot. Sure, his regular season stats are nuts, but how many Stanley Cups are giving out in February? No, no, no. This time was the last time. It had to be.
"(Marc-Andre Fleury) is the No. 1 goalie for this franchise and will be going forward," says head coach Dan Bylsma.
"I don’t think anybody’s worried in here. I think he’s had a lot of scrutiny. I think as a teammate, we believe in him and we know he believes in himself," says Sidney Crosby.
With no vital goalie prospects in the system and no real help in free agency, the Penguins are sticking with the guy that's won them a Cup. But clearly he isn't that guy anymore. Fleury worked with a sports psychologist this offseason and has just begun working with new goalies coach Mike Bales. Hopefully these steps and the franchise's optimism in him help his performance after the first eighty-two games.
Fleury knows he's got work to do, saying, "I was trying to figure out what happened on every goal, trying to find ways to stop it. Some were unfortunate bounces. Some were good goals. I look at it, think about it and try to be better. It was rocky in the playoffs. I’m not going to stop playing hockey because of that. You learn from it. I’m looking forward to getting going again.”
Penguins fans are hoping he learns from it. Penguins front office are willing it.
Don't forget that Saturday's practices and scrimmage are open to the public. It's free to get in and festivities start at 9:00am.
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