Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury needs redemption against the Blue Jackets
Fleury and his teammates find themselves tied at two games apiece in their first round series with the Columbus Blue Jackets. In both of the games that the Penguins lost, the team blew a lead and then lost in overtime.
Fleury was the main culprit for his team's 4-3 overtime loss last night in Columbus. While he did make 42 saves in the hockey game, it was two big blunders that lost his team the hockey game.
When the Blue Jackets tied the game with less than 30 seconds to go in the third period on Brandon Dubinsky's goal, Fleury's mishandling of the puck led to the game being tied. On the play, the Blue jackets dumped the puck in from the Penguins' blue line and instead of stopping it behind the net for his defenseman, he completely missed the puck and the Blue Jackets were able to get the puck out front to Dubinsky who had a wide open net.
Sometimes in the playoffs, less is more for a goaltender and on that particular play, Fleury tried to do too much. He would have been in trouble had he stopped it behind the net because the Blue Jackets already had one of their players ready to forecheck and steal the puck from the Penguins' netminder.
Unfortunately for Fleury and the Penguins, his problems did not stop there. In overtime, Fleury allowed a soft goal to Blue Jackets' forward NickFoligno and ultimately, it is this goal that has given the Blue Jackets life heading back to Pittsburgh for Game 5 on Saturday night.
This is the kind of goal that any NHL netminder would want back. Fleury was not screened on the play and instead of catching the puck with his glove or making a save with his left pad, the puck squeeked through him.
It is that kind of goal that proves Fleury was rattled after the Blue Jackets tied the game. Had he truly bounced back from that goal, than he would have stopped Foligno's shot and play would have continued with a chance for the Penguins to win the hockey game.
With two days to go before Game 5, Fleury has to want redemption. After playing poorly in last year's playoffs, this was supposed to be the year in which his playoffs blunders were behind him and the year in which he take his team far into the postseason.
For him to get redemption, a few things must happen. For Fleury, it all has to start with mental toughness.
It was clear last night that Fleury was shaken up. Not only did he and his team give up a three goal lead and lose in overtime, but Fleury was at fault for the two goals that really mattered in the hockey game.
Fleury needs to clear his head and focus on the next play. Yes, he allowed two bad goals, but he needs to put those in the past and focus on the task at hand.
Secondly, Fleury needs to stay between his pipes more. Instead of worrying about playing the puck behind the net, he should concentrate on stopping the puck and keeping things simple.
Lastly, Fleury needs to play with the confidence that he utilizes in the regular season. Sure, it's the playoffs, but if he treats like any other hockey game, that may end up benefiting both Fleury and his hockey club in a big way.
The playoffs are far from over for the Penguins. It is time for Fleury to get his head back in the game and prove to the rest of the hockey world that he can be one of the game's best when it matters most.