Sport Joe Starkey: Fleury makes GM Rutherford look like a genius

15:06  13 april  2017
15:06  13 april  2017 Source:   Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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Ran into an old-time goaltender on my way out of the Penguins’ locker room Wednesday night. The conversation started like this: Me: “How about Fleury Sean Gentille. Joe Starkey . Paul Zeise. High School Sports.

Joe Starkey : Fleury earns chance to make more memories | Pittsburgh Apr 20, 2017 - Goalie who played in the series only because of injury should have the Ian Cole congratulates goalie Marc-Andre Fleury after the Penguins beat the Blue Jackets 5. 1. Joe

Ran into an old-time goaltender on my way out of the Penguins’ locker room Wednesday night.

The conversation started like this:

Me: “How about Fleury tonight?”

Ed Johnston: “Thank God Jimmy never made a move.”

E.J. was talking about Penguins general manager “Jimmy” Rutherford, of course, the guy who’s done just about everything right since early last season. That would include, notably, holding onto Marc-Andre Fleury instead of trading him when trading him became a clear option beginning in July.

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Joe Starkey . The Penguins are making the right move in retaining Fleury , for these reasons Bouncing back has been a theme in Fleury 's career, but he's never been body-slammed like this.

A former goalie himself, Rutherford said Wednesday that he noticed a change in Fleury 's game last season, his first with Bales. It looks like a win-win from here. Let's talk again in May. Joe Starkey co-hosts a show 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays on 93.7 FM.


How could you not think of Rutherford as Fleury, a last-minute starter, was making 31 saves in a 3-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets?

It wasn’t so much that Fleury stole the game. It was more that he lent a sense of calm to what could have been a jarring situation and weathered a first period in which the Penguins were outshot 16-3.

His best stop was against Columbus defenseman Zach Werenski, who walked in alone from the right point and blasted a shot that caromed off Fleury’s upper right arm.


Pucks stuck to Fleury all night. He didn’t allow many rebounds, and when he did, his teammates were there to clean up. He basically never flinched despite the adverse circumstances. Which is to say, not knowing he would play until goalie coach Mike Bales told him as much about 15 minutes before the puck drop, or shortly after starter Matt Murray sustained a lower-body injury contorting to stop a puck during warm-ups.

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Joe Starkey | Monday, April 18, 2016, 7:54 p.m. Maybe Fleury was a pulling a Sullivan, intentionally juking the media, but he looked as down in the dumps as I've ever seen him. Fleury and Matt Murray — who has been out with an “upper-body injury” that sure seemed like a concussion — shared a net

If GM Jim Rutherford does move on from Fleury this summer, it will strictly be a business decision. Sometimes stars like these need to go through that period before people embrace them like they always should have. And the more you look into things, it’s clear that a lot of fans should drop the

“I just tried to take it like a regular game,” Fleury said. “I was a little nervous at the beginning, maybe from not expecting it. The guys did a great job in front of me.”

Rutherford said all along — through the summer, the early season and the trade deadline — that his preference was to keep Fleury. He said you never know when you’ll have to dig into your depth in goal. He probably didn’t expect that time would come literally minutes before Game 1, but then again, this club’s playoff history is littered with strange-but-true goalie stories, from Frank Pietrangelo to Johan Hedberg to Jeff Zatkoff, Matt Murray and finally Fleury.

Fleury’s teammates were thrilled when he survived the deadline.

“Everyone would say we love Marc-Andre Fleury as a person, as a teammate and as a goaltender,” said defenseman Ian Cole. “We’re very fortunate to have two world-class goaltenders on our team. For him to step up like he did tonight shouldn’t be a big story because he’s been doing it all year for us.

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Joe Starkey . I'd put Kessel next to Crosby, because Crosby loves speed on his wings, and Kessel, even if he looks like the hockey-playing version of Spaulding Smails from “Caddyshack Penguins get their man in making trade with Toronto for Kessel. The wait was worth it for Jim Rutherford .

“He’s been doing it his [whole] career. He played how everyone expected him to play.”

Once the Penguins regained their equilibrium at the start of the second period, they showed the kind of firepower Columbus simply doesn’t have.

I mean, few teams do, but unless I missed something, I can’t think of a truly pretty play the Blue Jackets made all night. The Penguins mostly kept them to the perimeter and blocked 22 shots in front of Fleury.

At the other end, the Penguins combined a little Harlem Globetrotters and a little Barcelona soccer on their first goal.

First, you had Evgeni Malkin somehow keeping himself onside as he reeled in a bomb, then delivering a pass to Kessel flying into the zone. Then you had Kessel making a one-touch kick pass with his right skate — yes, he meant to do it — onto the tape of a streaking Bryan Rust, who beat likely Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky with perfect wrist shot.

Columbus doesn’t score that goal.

Columbus doesn’t have Phil Kessel, who not only drew a penalty to set up the Penguins’ second goal but scored it on a blistering wrist shot from the low left circle. Blue Jackets defenseman Scott Harrington allowed Kessel to walk in and pick his spot. That’s never a good idea.

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If a Sentinel, with all their innate characteristics wanted to rise to “ genius ” status, what would that look like ? And what about Diplomats and Explorers? A genius Analyst takes the old ideas and makes something new.

[Pre-Chorus] I've been starvin' for another taste Like a dog, you got me on a leash I've been barkin' at your feet One more bite is all I need One more bite would be so sweet. More on Genius . "Dime & Dog" Track Info. Written By Jesse Rutherford .

After Nick BoninoBoninoBoninooooooo! scored to make it 3-0 late in the second, the only suspense left was whether Fleury would get the shutout. A Matt Calvert goal with 7:19 left ruined that idea but hardly ruined the night for a gold-out crowd of 18,563 that punctuated the evening with several chants of “Flur-eee! Flur-eee! Flur-eee!”

This will no doubt lead to plenty of debate over who should play when and if Murray returns to health. It probably shouldn’t. Mike Sullivan has managed the situation expertly all season, pretty much squashing any “controversy.”

Sullivan isn’t blowing smoke when he says the Penguins have “two No. 1 goalies.” He means it.

Fleury proved it.

Joe Starkey: and Twitter @joestarkey1. Joe Starkey can be heard on the “Starkey and Mueller” show weekdays from 2-6 p.m. on 93.7 The Fan.


Fleury soaks in experience of setting Penguins' playoff wins record .
Marc-Andre Fleury wasn't scheduled to make any playoff starts for the Pittsburgh Penguins this year. Expected to serve as backup to Matt Murray, who backstopped the team to a Stanley Cup win in 2016, Fleury was pressed into action against the Columbus Blue Jackets when the incumbent fell prey to injury prior to the start of the postseason.

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