First there were concerns Marc-Andre Fleury was playing too much, now some are worried he’s been resting for too long. As we patiently wait for Fleury to make his return between the pipes, the question of how he will look when he gets back in there must be asked.
The 34-year-old goaltender has been in net eight times over the last 15, and none of the last six. Last season, Fleury played 16 out of Vegas’ last 20 and was unbelievable in the Golden Knights goal throughout the playoffs.
Over the past four seasons, Fleury has had various percentages of starts down the stretch and all show signs of consistency in the playoffs.
In 2016-17, Fleury played eight of the last 20 games splitting time with Matt Murray. That Penguins team, of course, went on to win the Cup. Fleury started the first 15 games winning two series (CBJ-5 games, WAS- 7 games) but was relieved of his duties after Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Pittsburgh went on to win seven of the next 11 games with Murray in net. The light schedule for Fleury didn’t impact his performance for 15 postseason games. He had a .924 save percentage and allowed 2.56 goals per game before getting the hook.
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan was very confident in both goaltenders.
Both of these guys have helped this team win all year long. They’re both high-quality people and they’re high-quality goaltenders. We never take these decisions lightly. They’re extremely difficult decisions. This is the choice that we made for Game 4. –Mike Sullivan
The season prior, Fleury started 12 out of the Penguins last 20 games. He ended the season with 58 games played but his time would come to an end quickly in the postseason. Fleury dropped the first two games of a first round series and was replaced with Murray for the remainder of their Stanley Cup run. Fleury posted a dismal .875 save percentage in those two games.
In 2014-15, Fleury played 16 of the last 20 regular season games. The Penguins lost went on to lose to the New York Rangers in the first round. Fleury was terrific though. He limited the Rangers to just 2.12 goals per game and put up a .927 save percentage.
|GP in Last 20||Playoff Record||Playoff Sv%||Playoff GAA|
Last season’s Cup winning goaltender Brayden Holtby played nine out of his team’s last 20 games. The difference is the Caps goalie didn’t begin the postseason due to poor play. That shouldn’t be a problem for the Golden Knights, but Holtby’s rest down the stretch could’ve aided last year’s title run for Washington. When he got back in there, his numbers were great at 2.16 GAA and .922 Sv%.
So, in conclusion of this horribly unscientific study, Fleury’s play down the stretch shouldn’t have an impact on his play in April, May or June. No matter how much or how little games he played, #29 will be prepared to help his team succeed.
Remember, he’s been a part of the last three Stanley Cup finals. Just like Holtby or Murray he’s a Cup winner that is consistent when it matters most. Overworked or rested, there’s no reason to think Fleury won’t continue that trend.