Is it time to for the Penguins to treat Marc-Andre Fleury like a full-fledged, backup goaltender and start him 10 more times at most over the rest of the season?
Look at the Penguins this past week. Two wins. One loss. The two wins were engineered by Matt Murray, who stopped 43 of 47 shots (.915) and won a shootout. The one was loss was the result of Fleury allowing six goals on 36 shots. Fleury has a .901 save percentage in 15 games; Murray is at .939 in eight games since returning from an injury suffered during the World Cup.
The difference between Murray and Fleury is simple: One is great when the going gets tough and the other is not.
Other than back-to-back situations — like the next two days — there’s no reason to use Fleury if Murray is stopping pucks at a high rate. It’s looking more and more like the Pens totally missed out on getting anything of value for Fleury when they didn’t trade him this past summer.
And with the Penguins in a situation where they must protect Fleury for the expansion draft in June, they have to find a way to get him off the roster by then or get him to waive his no-movement clause to avoid exposing Murray to Las … sorry … to VEGAS. There’s no way the Penguins will lose Murray, but the window for getting anything of value for Fleury has surely closed.
The Penguins have, without question, the best jerseys in the NHL. Whether it’s the new white ones they wear on the road or their standard home jerseys, they are a delight to the visual senses. They pop. They even compliment the opponents’ sweaters most times. Your TV becomes a work of art of two hours whenever the Penguins are on it.
This preamble is both truthful and my way of cushioning the blow of letting you know they may have the worst outdoor jerseys in the history of NHL outdoor games.
The team revealed its jersey for its Stadium Series game against the Philadelphia Flyers at Heinz Field on Feb. 25, and well, it’s not good.
Why is there a yield sign on the front that contains a C or an A? Who designed that City of Champions patch?
Wait, do Pittsburgh people call it the City of Champions? Because no one else does. It’s the City of French Fries on Everything, which is a way cooler nickname anyway.
The Penguins were sort of due for a bad jersey. These aren’t as bad as the Flyers jerseys with the gold numbers, but what is?
Player of the Week
Sidney Crosby had two goals in a 6-1 win against the New York Rangers to start the week but in that game, it was Phil Kessel that got the comeback started. He made a terrific pass to Scott Wilson for a back-door goal that tied the game, then scored a beauty of a goal as he used to his speed and a deadly accurate snapshot to beat Henrik Lundqvist.
Kessel also had a goal in a losing effort against the Minnesota Wild and pumped five shots on net in the shootout win against New Jersey. It was a very full week for Phil. For Phil!
Player of the Weak
We already highlighted Fleury’s bad game so we won’t pick on him twice. Instead, let’s look at Carl Hagelin, who had just an assist over his past three games and continues to have trouble scoring this year.
Hagelin has just one goal in 13 games this month and played a season-low 12:20 against the Devils on Saturday. Maybe that will change this week, now that he’s alleviated himself of some holiday stress by picking out a Christmas tree.
Penguin vs. Croc vs. Bear
This is easy — it’d be Hornqvist.
Is this because I consider Hornqvist to have some sort of legendary toughness, a thing that I never once contemplated before this question? Absolutely not. He stands in front of a net. I’m sure he’s fought but I’ve never seen it. Do Penguins fans know he’s Swedish and probably spends weekends knitting blankets? Sorry, this question threw me.
But the answer is still Hornqvist.
Bears and crocodiles are apex predators. They will turn their focus on each other and that fight will take a while. While the bear and crocodile are battling to the death (I think I like the crocodile in that one), Hornqvist will simply kick down the door with help from his super-sharp skates. As the only human in the room, he’s the only one aware he’s locked in the room, and he will have plenty of time to break through door, which you did not specify as being all that tough to penetrate.