When the playoffs begin next week, there’s no question the most pressure in the organization will be on goaltender Marc Andre Fleury along with head coach Dan Bylsma.
Fleury is entering a huge next couple weeks that could determine his legacy and future with the organization. Another playoff collapse by Fleury that results in an early exit and the Penguins will have no choice but to strongly look at going in another direction, something many General Manager’s would have done last summer.
Fleury has just one year left on his contract, set to make $5.75 million in 2014-2015, and he’s got a lot on the line this post-season, potentially millions of dollars as he covets a long-term deal worth up to $6 million per season, sources say. NHL executives feel Corey Crawford’s 6 year – $36 million contract is a ball park range, agents who rep quality starting goaltenders still in their 20’s will be looking to go off of.
For an organization that values the regular season more than others, Fleury likely just needs to be okay this post-season to stay in the good gracious with the Pens brass, but being average likely won’t get the Penguins to the Stanley Cup Finals like in 2009.
Scouts often feel that save percentage is a great away to determine how good a goaltender is.
Fleury’s save percentage the last five Post-Seasons
2008-2009 Regular Season – .912% | Playoffs .908% (24 games)
2009-2010 Regular Season – .905% | Playoffs .891% (13 games)
2010-2011 Regular Reason – .918% | Playoffs .899% (7 games)
2011-2012 Regular Season – .913% | Playoffs .834% (6 games)
2012-2013 Regular Season – .916% | Playoffs .883% (5 games)
The Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 2009 with Fleury posting just a .908 save percentage in the playoffs. His career save percentage (regular season) is .910.
The Penguins winning the Stanley Cup with a goaltender posting a save percentage under .910, was very rare, let alone under .920. In the last 20 years, Fleury is the only goaltender to win a Stanley Cup while posting a save percentage under .910 during a playoff run. Fleury, Antti Niemi and Chris Osgood are the only goaltenders since 1993 to win the Stanley Cup while posting a save percentage under .920.
Other than Fleury in 2009, the last goaltender to win a Stanley Cup while posting a save percentage under .910, was none other than Tom Barrasso in the 1992 playoffs.
POST-SEASON SAVE PERCENTAGE OF STANLEY CUP WINNING GOALTENDERS SINCE 1993
1993 – Patrick Roy, Colorado Avalanche, .929 save percentage
1994 – Mike Richter, New York Rangers, .921 save percentage
1995 – Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils, .927 save percentage
1996 – Patrick Roy, Colorado Avalanche, .921 save percentage
1997 – Mike Vernon, Detroit Red Wings, .927 save percentage
1998 – Chris Osgood, Detroit Red Wings, .918 save percentage
1999 – Ed Belfour, Dallas Stars, .930 save percentage
2000 – Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils, .927 save percentage
2001 – Patrick Roy, Colorado Avalanche, .934 save percentage.
2002 – Dominik Hasek, Detroit Red Wings, .920 save percentage
2003 – Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils, .934 save percentage
2004 – Nikolai Khabibulin, Tampa Bay Lightning, .934 save percentage
2006 – Cam Ward, Carolina Hurricanes, .920 save percentage
2007 – Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Anaheim Ducks, .922 save percentage
2008 – Chris Osgood, Detroit Red Wings, .930 save percentage
2009 – Marc Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins, .908 save percentage
2010 – Antti Niemi, Chicago Blackhawks, .910 save percentage
2011 – Tim Thomas, Boston Bruins, .940 save percentage
2012 – Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings, .946 save percentage
2013 – Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks, .932 save percentage
Since the Penguins last won the Stanley Cup in 2009, the NHL has evolved into a heavy puck possession, defensive minded league over the last couple years.
The Penguins are not close to being as deep offensively as that 2009 team was and the chances of them being to get through the Eastern Conference and win the Stanley Cup with Fleury having a save percentage hovering around .910 is very unlikely. That was really rare.
Fleury’s save percentage this season is .917, and he ranks 22nd among goaltenders in even strength save percentage, right around where it was last regular season.
If the Penguins are to get through the East and into the Stanley Cup finals, the percentages say Fleury is going to have to play beyond his career marks.
The type of performance Fleury gave the Penguins last night vs Colorado is one he’s going to have to come up with on a regular basis. If he does the playoff collapses will suddenly start being a thing of the past and surely put him strongly in the mix for a long-term deal of at least four years.