The reigning Vezina Trophy winner has made his way to the Windy City, but his start has probably not been what most people were hoping for.
When the Chicago Blackhawks made a trade to bring Marc-Andre Fleury to their team, they could rest assured that they were acquiring a bonafide number one starting goaltender. This marks the first time that has happened since Corey Crawford’s departure.
Fleury is one of the greatest netminders of the past decade. Some people would probably say that he’s one of the best NHL goalies of all time, and there is definitely an argument to be made there.
If anything, Fleury was brought in to be a tutor and mentor for Kevin Lankinen, who proved last year he has starting potential but still has a ways to go.
That is why it’s been so disappointing to see that Fleury has not had two great games for the Blackhawks so far.
In his ‘Hawks debut against the Avalanche, Flower stopped 32 of 36 shots, an .889 save percentage. While he was not brilliant, he made the saves that he needed to and overall kept the team in the game despite the 4-2 loss.
However, his second start was…worse, to say the least. Playing against the Pittsburgh Penguins the team he spent 13 years with and took to three Stanley Cup championships, Fleury looked off his game and never seemed to settle in.
Fleury allowed four goals in on ten shots, a save percentage of only .600, including one costly turnover by the goaltender himself that led to a Penguins goal. Worse, three of the goals were scored just 10:59 into the first period, including the first tally just 15 seconds into the game.
This would cause Fleury to get chased from the net in favor of Lankinen, who was solid in relief and only allowed one additional Penguins goal.
Given that Flower’s two starts have been below-average and terrible, respectively, is this a sign of further things to come for Fleury? Are we looking towards a declining season after a Vezina-winning campaign?
First of all, it’s easy to place the blame on your goaltender, but we have to remember that the defense has been playing terribly as well, particularly some of the news guys. The D-core simply hung Fleury out to dry, especially last game. Seth Jones has looked out of place in his first trio of ‘Hawks games, and Jake McCabe has had a number of blown assignments that have led to bad results.
So can we blame Fleury for the loss? Well, somewhat, yes. But to say that he could not easily turn his luck around is simply not true. It’s very early in the season, and Fleury (as well as a number of new faces) are clearly still getting settled into their new surroundings.
This isn’t about making excuses for the veteran goalie, but just understanding that just because he’s had a poor start doesn’t mean he should be written off. Plus, by all accounts, it seems like he wasn’t exactly thrilled about leaving Vegas in the first place.
Fleury has shown flashes of brilliance, though. In the preseason, he made a remarkable glove stop against Detroit’s Robby Fabbri, snatching the puck and preventing it from sailing into a wide-open net. The save can be seen in the below video at the eight-minute mark:
So while Fleury might not have had the best start to his Blackhawks tenure, it remains to be seen whether or not his luck will turn around. Personally, I believe he will probably get things going soon.
Besides, there are some other much more glaring issues with this team, namely the people standing behind the bench. We’ll get a chance to see the ‘Hawks in action again this Tuesday when they play their home opener against the New York Islanders.