ShareThis Page
Goaltender learning to shake it off |

Goaltender learning to shake it off

Karen Price
| Tuesday, March 28, 2006 12:00 a.m

Sunday night’s game wasn’t Marc-Andre Fleury’s worst of the season, but it definitely wasn’t his best, either.

The Montreal Canadiens scored on their second and third shots for an early lead against the Penguins and went on to a 6-5 win. They would have scored a few more, too, were it not for some luck and a couple heads-up plays by Fleury’s teammates, such as Sergei Gonchar grabbing the puck after it went through the goaltender’s legs and just before it crossed the line in the first period.

Earlier this season, a game like that probably would have been hard for Fleury to put behind him. But if assistant general manager Eddie Johnston’s assessment of Fleury’s development this year is accurate, the Canadiens game will be a distant memory the next time he’s in goal.

“I think he’s learned when he has a bad game now he can come back the next game and play well,” Johnston said. “And you get that through experience. You shake it off. Before, he wasn’t able to shake it off. And that’s one of his biggest improvements right now.”

Fleury’s had some bad games this year, but he called his roughly 10 minutes in net March 4 against the Carolina Hurricanes the worst 10 minutes of the year. He let in three goals on four shots in relief of Sebastien Caron, and that was the end of his night.

The 21-year-old rookie was clearly frustrated during the team’s next practice, but since that disastrous relief appearance, Fleury is 4-3-1 with a 2.84 goals-against average and a .904 save percentage.

“I really think his confidence (has improved),” Johnston said. “Confidence is a big thing for a goalkeeper. Probably, his biggest asset now is he’s starting to read plays; he’s got a little bit of patience. Before, he would commit earlier and leave himself open to maybe an open net here or an open net there. But I think now he’s learned to read the play a little bit better, and when you’re playing goal that’s very important.”

Although he can’t prove it by the numbers — Fleury had a .901 save percentage his first 23 games and has a .896 his last 19 — he said it helped once he was told in mid-January that the Penguins were going to keep him in the NHL for the rest of the season.

Growing up

Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is nearing the end of his rookie season, and people have noticed the development in his game recently. Here’s a look at his numbers from two years ago, this year and his past eight games.




Save percentage











Last 8 games





“It helps mentally,” he said. “Before, you’re nervous if you let in a bad goal, maybe they will send me down because of that. Or bad game• Oh, I’m done. Now, I don’t have to think that. I think, ‘Stop the next one and you have another game if it doesn’t go good.’ So, mentally it’s a lot easier.”

Before the Penguins’ game against the New Jersey Devils on March 16, Fleury earned praise from one of the best goaltenders of the modern era, Martin Brodeur.

“From the first game I played against him last year to now, that’s one thing that’s impressed me is how quick he is and how good of a skater he is in the net,” Brodeur said. “He’s not a goalie that will just go down and block and not really move. He’s got the skill and the enthusiasm in the game to challenge and fight in there, and that’s what I like about him.

“I think some nights it’s tough for him because of how the team plays in front of him. But I think they have a gem in him in Pittsburgh, that’s for sure.”

Karen Price is a former freelancer.

Categories: News
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.