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Penguins – Wild Fallout:

Reported on Wednesday that the Penguins goaltending situation is becoming a complicated matter inside the room to the coaching staff who are “annoyed” with the situation of having to play politics as one source put it and with many core players so close to Fleury off the ice, it’s been a difficult situation as off the ice Fleury is said to be struggling with the fact of no longer being the No. 1 as bad as he’s struggled with his play on the ice.

It’s not going to get any easier for Fleury who was lit up today for five goals on the Wild’s first 26 shots and allowed six goals on 36 shots overall in the Penguins 6-2 loss today to the Wild.

Pittsburgh fell behind 3-1 after twenty minutes and then trailed 5-1 after forty minutes.

The Penguins were not strong in front of Fleury defensively and gave up killer goals in the loss.

Charlie Coyle scored 40 seconds in, an inexcusable goal for Fleury to give up to start a road game.

fleury-poor After allowing the Coyle goal 40 seconds in, a save he has to make, the Wild would strike on the power play less than eight minutes later. A bit of traffic in front but Fleury did not track the play well.

fleury

Nearly every time in this game where the Penguins built up some momentum, Minnesota would respond with putting a puck in the back of the net. Phil Kessel cuts the Wild’s lead to 2-1 in the first period and the Penguins can’t finish the period off.

Kris Letang turns the puck over around the goal line and Charlie Coyle scores with 23 seconds left in the period.

fleury-vs-minJust a brutal turnover late in a period that despite the high quality chance against, your goaltender needs to come up with at that point in a game the Penguins were trailing.

Then in the second period when the Penguins were driving play and tilting the ice, Minnesota would score twice in a 3:28 span late in the period.

An Ian Cole penalty in the offensive zone led to a Wild power play goal to go up 4-1 on a great shot from Zach Parise with poor coverage in front by Letang.

Moments later, a bad line change saw Mikael Granlund walk a sprawling Cole and beat Fleury for the Wild’s fifth goal of the game.

granlund

The Penguins shot themselves in the foot at every opportunity today from poor goaltending, turnovers, to inopportune penalties.

“I thought we put him in a tough spot,” Mike Sullivan said of Fleury.


Can Fleury rebound from this in a Penguins’ uniform?

Fleury at times this season, especially since Matt Murray came back from injury, has struggled to deal with adversity in games. That’s not been a surprise to one former member of the organization who cited Fleury’s not wired to handle situations when he’s pushed by another goaltender. When Brent Johnson was playing lights out to the start the 2010-2011 season, it took a while for Fleury to find his game. We all know how things went when the Penguins had another capable No. 1 in Tomas Vokoun during the 2013 season.

However, this is a different animal now where Fleury has to know he’s no longer the long-term goaltender, despite what Penguin management made him believe during a meeting last summer.

He’s battling a 22 year old franchise goaltender who won the Penguins a Stanley Cup last season. This isn’t some 35, 36 year old just pushing him for playing time in the short-term. If he wasn’t prepared for this and the type of rotation that’s been playing out, then Fleury wasn’t being honest with his self.

Fleury, though, did make his third start in four games today with the Penguins playing the percentages in starting Fleury on the road and planning to go with Matt Murray at home tomorrow night.


Three Takeaways

1. The Parise – Staal – Coyle line gave the Penguins fits below the dots. In the first period they created three turnovers leading to three high danger chances and two goals.

The way the Penguins blueline is built, this is the type of line you’d expect the Penguins to have trouble dealing with. With Kris Letang off his game, that’s how things played out.


2. The Wild like to play a heavy, gritty type of game. This was going to be an interesting game to evaluate Jake Guentzel. A lot of occasions you see young players like to rush things against tenacious teams. That wasn’t Guentzel today.

He was effective in letting plays develop off of zone entries and despite his stature of being a player who doesn’t stand out as someone who is going to bump players off pucks — prior to his callup, Penguin officials had often talked up his ability to track pucks with great angles on the forecheck and come out of corners with the puck. —

We saw some of that today.

Guentzel created the Kessel goal by providing pressure on star defenseman Ryan Suter on the forecheck that led to Evgeni Malkin coming out with the puck and setting Kessel up for the goal.

guentzel

The key for Guentzel on the play was taking an inside angle that forced the left handed Suter to his backhand when retrieving the puck. Then on his next shift Want the Full Story? Get "Inside Access"

About The Author

William DePaoli

TIOPS Insider

William DePaoli is the President/Founder of Inside Pittsburgh Sports LLC and can be reached at wdepaoli@insidepittsburghsports.com

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