The Year Marc-Andre Fleury Wins a Vezina Trophy

Marc-Andre Fleury deserves to collect his 1st Vezina Trophy after his best season (Tom Turk/THW)

Marc-Andre Fleury deserves to collect his 1st Vezina Trophy after his best season (Tom Turk/THW)

With the return of Sidney Crosby and the MVP caliber play of Evgeni Malkin dominating the Pittsburgh Penguins headlines, Marc-Andre Fleury has been under the radar. Once again another season is going by with the Flower not receiving enough credit for his brilliant play between the pipes.

Marc-Andre Fleury has continued to improve each and every season. He looks more comfortable in net and has such a calming influence on the rest of the Penguins players. It is no secret that defense wins championships, and despite the luxury of having two of the most talented offensive forces in the world, the Penguins will go as far as their netminder, Fleury, will take them.

This conversation seems to arise every season. It is about time that the Flower receives some credit for his magnificent play, and I will continue to write an article every season until Fleury wins a Vezina Trophy. If the hockey writers who vote on the Vezina for the NHL’s top goaltender do not vote to give Fleury the Vezina Trophy they should lose their voting privileges.

There has been plenty of chatter about Henrik Lundqvist and Pekka Rinne as the top two Vezina candidates in the 2011-12 season. What the voters need to keep in mind is that the Penguins main focus is not centered on defense like the New York Rangers and Nashville Predators who Lundqvist and Rinne anchor in the net.

The Rangers and the Predators play a very structured defensive style game. The Rangers are 3rd in goals against average while the Predators are 9th. The Penguins defense has declined since last season and has seen some of their highest paid and best defenseman struggle for the majority of the season. The Penguins team defense has slipped from 2.39 goals against per game to 2.56 goals against per game.

Teams like the Predators and Rangers make their goaltenders their focus. These teams’ first concerns are minimizing the other teams’ scoring chances first and then playing offense. The Pens do not need, nor do they worry about this type of issue with Fleury in the net.

Despite the lackluster team defense, Fleury has been the backbone and fooled many around the league into thinking the Pens won a variety of games handily. When in actuality, the Flower has stood on his head all year long and displayed more magical saves than one can count.

Fleury has won more than 35 games in his past 4 seasons, including 41 wins this year with the offensive oriented Penguins. The Flower’s 41 wins leads all of the NHL. Fleury has played in six fewer games than Rinne who has also registered 41 wins this season.

Marc-Andre Fleury has compiled the most wins of his career with 41 (Tom Turk/THW)

Marc-Andre Fleury has compiled the most wins of his career with 41 (Tom Turk/THW)

The reason why Fleury is worthy of his first Vezina trophy is because the Penguins put offense first whether they want to admit it or not, and why wouldn’t their focus be on offense with the fire power they have at their disposal. The Penguins are atop the NHL in scoring cashing in an average of 3.25 goals per game.

While the Pen’s offense has been lighting up the rest of the league, there have been plenty of instances when Fleury has been hung out to dry. I could easily throw together a highlight reel of sensational saves Fleury has made this season that no other goaltender in the NHL has the ability or quickness to make.

The Pen’s have depended on Fleury and asked him to play in more games this season than any previous year. This is due to the back-up goaltending for the Penguins being anything but solid. Brent Johnson has recorded three wins in 13 games this season. Brad Thiessen recently surrendered eight goals on 28 shots against the Ottawa Senators Saturday night.

Fleury has had more pressure to win games this year than ever before. He has been the most successful goaltender in the NHL recording wins this season and has been victorious in 65% of his games. Fleury also has the fewest regulation losses of any goaltender who has participated in more than 50 games this season.

With the Stanley Cup Playoffs right around the corner, the Flower has been at his best. At one time the Penguins trailed New York by 12 points and are now within one point of stealing the number one seed away from the Rangers depending on the outcome between the Rangers and Minnesota Wild Tuesday night.

The Flower has won 22 of his last 28 games in the crease with only 3 regulation losses in that span. In addition, Fleury has two streaks of 9 wins in January as well as March. Before playing the New York Islanders Tuesday night, Fleury has only surrendered more than two goals in 10 of his last 12 outings. In the other two games Fleury only gave up three goals with one of those contests resulting in a win and the other an overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers with 0.9 seconds remaining in overtime.

We have come to a point each season as to why Fleury should win a Vezina trophy. He becomes more deserving each season he suits up the pads for the Penguins. The Flower has received plenty of criticism since he was drafted number one overall by the Penguins in 2003 and all Fleury has done is thrive under the scrutiny.

When is Marc-Andre Fleury going to receive the credit he deserves? This is the year Fleury’s name should be engraved on the Vezina Trophy. It is more than just Fleury’s ridiculous stats. He has made saves that Pekka Rinne and Henrik Lundqvist dream about at night. Ask any Penguins player or any Penguins fan and no one has more confidence in Marc-Andre Fleury than now. This is why the Flower should get his hands around a Vezina Trophy in Las Vegas this summer.


Justin Glock
Justin Glock has covered the Pittsburgh Penguins for The Hockey Writers since 2011. As a lead writer, his Penguins knowledge traces back over two decades. For any requests, please feel free to contact Justin via email: JGlock10@gmail.com.
Justin Glock

29 Comments

  1. Hahaha. Fleury for Vezina?!

    Over Lundqvist?
    Over Quick?
    Over Elliot?!

    Bro, you’re out of your mind. Fleury is by far the most over-rated goalie in the league. Nice circus-act in the play offs for 2012 too.

  2. http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=629565&navid=DL|NHL|home

    …Guess there’s an anti-penguins bias in the NHL…..

    It’s fun being right.  You should try it sometime.

  3. realllly looks vezina worthy right now!! on the bench!

  4. Fleury just gave up 7 goals that Pens fell 2 games to 0 behind Philly. Nice story, moron. 

  5. This is a good article and an interesting read and I have really enjoyed reading the comments about it as well.

    I kind of disagree about Pittsburgh’s defense and defensive system to be honest. For a large part of the year, this team was based on one very strong scoring line and strong team defense. I actually think that the Penguins blue-line is a pretty good unit, even without Kris Letang, though they’ve had a lot of injuries to deal with.

    Is Fleury better than Lundqvist or Rinne? That’s a difficult question that we will never agree on? Does he deserve the Vezina Trophy? I think only if you change the criteria. I don’t see the award going to the player who ranks 23rd in save percentage and 11th in GAA. I think there are players who have just had better statistical seasons.

    The thing I personally love about Fleury in his career is his playoff performance. He’s had a harder time in the last two years, but his ability to make ‘the big save’ has made him an invaluable asset to a Penguins team that looks like it could make another run.

  6. *** Correction: Fleury’s shots per 60 minutes is 27, not 28.2, that was Lundqvist.  My mistake.

  7. Your arguments seem completely subjective, like somebody who watches the “Pens” play night in and night out.  I understand you are a big Penguins fan, but you need to hop off the bandwagon and start looking at reality.  Here’s a small dose for you.

    —Argument:  “Teams like the Predators and Rangers make their goaltenders their focus.
    These teams’ first concerns are minimizing the other teams’ scoring
    chances first and then playing offense. The Pens do not need, nor do
    they worry about this type of issue with Fleury in the net.”

    Interesting comment, but wrong.  As per the stats on NHL.com, “Flower” has played 3,686 minutes, facing a total of 1,668 shots.  That works out to 0.45 shots per minute, or roughly 28.2 shots for every 60 minutes played.  Here are the numbers for the guys you say face less because of their defense:
    Rinne:   30.6 shots/60 minutes
    Lundqvist:  28.2 shots/60 minutes
    Quick: 27.6 shots/60 minutes

    Additionally, that “declining” Pittsburgh defense gives up the 4th fewest shots per game in the league (while taking the second most), and scores more goals per game than any team by far.  Any goalie will tell you, you play much more confidently when you have the lead, or know your team has the ability to answer right back if you make a mistake. 

    hmmm… I guess that kills that argument.

    —Argument:  “With the Stanley Cup Playoffs right around the corner, the Flower has
    been at his best. At one time the Penguins trailed New York by 12 points
    and are now within one point of stealing the number one seed away from
    the Rangers.”

    Again, compelling argument…sounds good… but its wrong.  The team has been lighting it up, and Fleury has been along for the ride.  In their last 20 games, the Penguins have scored an astounding 3.94 goals per game!  That is well above even their league-leading season average.  So the offense has been stepping up, has Fleury?… not quite.  In his last 20 games, he has a .902 save% (worse than his season average), and has given up 2.2 goals per game. 

    So in this time when he has supposedly been “at his best”, his goals again and save% are still not up to par with Lundqvist, Quick and Rinne’s season numbers.

    wow… another argument shot down…. oh and I forgot to mention that in his only 3 losses over the last 20 games, he had a miserable
    .830 save%, giving up 10 goals on only 59 shots…. what a shame, “pens”
    could have won those games as well if it wasn’t for his shaky
    goaltending.

    To answer your question, Fleury is getting EXACTLY the credit that he DESERVES.  The rest of the league knows what he is, a slightly above-average goalie, who sometimes puts out a great performance, and sometimes goes out and gives the game away (like he just did against the Islanders). 

    It’s time for Penguins fans to stop with the home-town bias, and come down to earth for a reality check.  You have a great team, appreciate what you have, and don’t push it with homer arguments like this.

    Fleury wont even be nominated for a Vezina, which is exactly the way it should be.

    • So Dom, you’re saying that Fleury faces one less shot than Lundqvist, that’s 27 per 60 mins, so I’m not sure what your point is there. Thanks that makes me and Fleury look better. Any goalie will actually tell you, if you played hockey, that its harder to be sharp when you face few shots, like Fleury has according to you. Which goes right along with the fact that he hadn’t given up more than 2 goals before last night in 10 of his last 12 games. You can twist your stats anyway you like. You should read that line again. He’s been pretty damn good. You’re citing stats that I write nothing about in my article so i’m not too sure how i’m wrong about things you’re talking about, but I hope you boosted your own confidence. I never said the 3 goalies you have listed above face less shots than Fleury. If you could show me where I say that I would appreciate it. I didn’t once mention his GAA, I talked about the Penguins GAA. The Pens defense gives up 4th fewest shots but their D is worst than last year. Their defense is their weak link. And against the Islanders, He had two breakaways against him, a bad bounce off the boards and an Islander right in front of him on an Isles PP for the goals he gave up. He can have an off night.  
      Did any of those goalies have two 9 game win streaks this season? I would bet anything he gets nominated for a Vezina Trophy.  Also, if you knew anything about hockey you might know that WINS matter. So, the next time you say i’m wrong about something present a FACT or something that I actually wrote about and prove it wrong instead of citing your own stats and making up things  that aren’t in my article and saying I’m wrong about things I didn’t even write about. I have been a huge critic of Fleury over the years and totally down on him in the past and even in the year the Pens won the Cup. This has been his best year. He and Malkin have carried the Pens through injuries. 
      Thanks for the read.

      • Yes, Justin, my point was that Fleury
        faces one less shot on average per game, this was in response to your claim:

         

        “The Rangers and the Predators
        play a very structured defensive style game…The Penguins defense has declined
        since last season and has seen some of their highest paid and best defenseman
        struggle for the majority of the season.” 

         

        That claim, based on the number of
        shots he has faced, is false.  Now I will
        concede the point that shots on goal is not always an indicator of the type of
        impact a goaltender has on a game. 
        Martin Brodeur made a living facing a majority of the shots against him
        from outside the circles, with very little traffic in front.  However, to claim that Lundqvist and Rinne
        are a product of their defensive systems, and that Fleury is in essence hung
        out to dry every night is patently false. 

         

        On your second point, I do play
        hockey, and am a goalie.  I have been
        since I was four years old.  I grew up
        playing travel hockey as well, played high school and midget major.  I too played “AAA” travel hockey
        all across (and outside of) the country, and I am not sure how old you are but
        for all I know I may have actually played against you at some point.  As a goalie I agree whole-heartedly with your
        point of it being more difficult to play well when facing fewer shots, but you
        are using that in the wrong context. 
        That is only true when your team is so dominant that you’re sitting back
        in your net getting cold because you’re only facing a handful of shots a
        period.  That would have been a good
        point if Fleury faces 15-20 shots a game, but obviously he plays in the NHL and
        nobody faces that on a nightly basis.  My
        point was that you are claiming that he is bailing out this “lackluster
        team defense”, which in reality is not lackluster at all!  As I stated in my original response, they
        give up the 4th fewest shots in the league. 
        To call them lackluster is just disrespectful to them, and proves your
        ignorance.  They may not be as formidable
        as they were during their cup run, but they are still an above-average NHL
        defense.

         

        “The Pens defense gives up 4th
        fewest shots but their D is worst than last year. Their defense is their weak
        link.”  This is a perfect example of
        your subjective Pittsburgh home-town bias. 
        You are not disputing my argument with facts, you are providing your opinions
        as if they are facts. 

         

         

        On to the next thing…. To say that
        my “twisted stats” don’t have anything to do with what you are
        saying, just because you didn’t mention them, is just a way of skirting my
        points.  You are basically trying to tell
        me that you will not try to disprove facts that I am presenting you, or even
        acknowledge them, because you didn’t bring them up.  The stats that I provided have EVERYTHING to
        do with what you are claiming.  Ill break
        it down for you really slowly, so that you can understand.

         

        YOUR POINT:  The Penguins defense is their weak point and
        Fleury makes up for their poor play, while Lundqvist and Rinne have the
        advantage of being on defensive-minded teams.

        COUNTERPOINT:  Pittsburgh defense gives up the 4th fewest
        shots per game in the league, and Fleury faces fewer shots per game than both
        Lundqvist and Rinne.  (27 as opposed to
        28.2 and 30.6 respectively)

         

        YOUR POINT: With the Stanley Cup
        Playoffs right around the corner, Fleury has been at his best. At one time the
        Penguins trailed New York by 12 points.

        COUNTERPOINT: Fleury has not
        “been at his best” and the stats prove it out:

        Fleury Save% last 20 games: .902

        Fleury Save% prior 43 games: .906

        Fleury GAA last 20 games:  2.20

        Fleury GAA prior 43 games: 2.25

         

        Penguins avg. goals for last 20
        games:  3.95

        Penguinsa avg. goals for 56 games
        prior: 3.00

         

        So his GAA is slightly lower, but so
        is his save%.  So those stats directly
        refute the point that he has “been at his best.”  You are implying that he is has been the
        catalyst for this winning streak, when the numbers clearly show that the reason
        is because they have been scoring almost an entire goal more per game over the
        span!

         

         ***During this run, his numbers have stayed
        the same, while the team has improved their scoring by 30%!!*** HE IS NOT THE
        REASON!

         

        You are trying to avoid the numbers
        that I am throwing at you because you know they disprove your entire argument,
        because it is illogical.  The only stats
        that you provide to back up your claims are team stats.  GAA and winning streaks; both of those, while
        he is a contributing factor, at the end of the day are stats relating to team
        performance. 

         

        You, my friend, are seeing him through
        your black and gold tinted glasses.  You
        need to take them off and see him for what he really is, an EXCELLENT
        goaltender, who at NO point in his career has been the best in the league.  He is not currently in the top 3, and top 5
        would be debatable.  He is on a
        juggernaut of a team, and does a good job for them.  You should just leave it at that.

         

        If you would like to counter my arguments with logic and
        facts, instead of conjecture and emotion, I eagerly look forward to your rebuttal.  If, however, you are just going to sit there
        and try to claim that I don’t know anything about hockey, and continue with
        your baseless arguments about how stellar he has been, then I am no longer
        interested in what you have to say.  Use that
        writing degree you have, dig up some facts to support your argument, and come
        back at me with something other than biased opinion.

        -Dom
         

        • You must have a lot of time on your hands b/c you wrote the exact same thing twice. Just twice as long the 2nd time around. If you watched how the Pens defense has played in its last two games, then you would see how weak their defense is exactly. Did you watch? They run around and don’t cover anyone.  Also, again you are stating your own stats and making things up that aren’t in my article. I asked you to bring up where I specifically talk about shots and specifically talk about other things and you just say the exact same things over again and didn’t answer. I learned how to follow directions with my writing degree as well. If I wanted, I could write an article criticizing any player in the NHL or praising anyone in the NHL. Fleury has had his best season as a Penguin and the Pens coaches and GM would tell you that. It’s not about the number of shots it’s about scoring chances. So your shots per game is just irrelevant, but thanks. Again you can twist your stats anyway you’d like. I’m not going to repeat myself. You’ll see Fleury being the starting goaltender for Team Canada the next time they’re is international play as well. And like I said, I’ve been a huge critic of Fleury in the past. He played very inconsistent in ’09. This is his most consistent season. How many Penguins games do you watch? It is my responsibility to cover the Pens and watch their games. Thanks for reading.

        • Ugh I can see we are just going in circles here.  you can’t comprehend the concept of a point, followed by a counter-point that’s actually backed up by facts instead of opinions.  Again, I provided stats to refute your opinions… but whatever, I’m done trying to get through to you.  Pittsburgh school systems must be horrible.

          Your argument rests on the fact that Fleury is having HIS  best season.  That doesn’t mean he is playing better than anybody else.  I never disputed he is having his best year so far, but it is still not on par with the other guys who are at the top of the league.

          Statements like “Fleury is quicker than Lundqvist” and “I will continue to write an article every season until Fleury wins a Vezina Trophy” just show that you are an ignorant homer with an agenda. 

          …sidenote: having to be “quick” a lot usually means you are often out of position, if you were a goalie you would know that.  The best make it look easy…

          You can say that I dont watch enough Penguins games, (which I watch a fair amount, how can you avoid them since NBC/NBCsports seems to have them on every damn night)  but obviously you don’t watch enough of the other guys mentioned here.  If you did, you would realize that without Lundqvist, the Rangers would be the Islanders, and the Predators get out shot almost every time they take the ice.  Also, Lundqvist especially has been the epitome of consistency throughout his career, unlike Fleury, who you admit has been inconsistent.

          And wether or not he is the starter for Canada means NOTHING to this argument.  They are two completely unrelated topics.  But if you want to go down that road we can.   Canadian goatending right now is a joke.  Other than an aging Roberto Luongo (who will be 34 during the 2014 olympics, and will probably still be the starter anyway) there really isnt anybody decent playing in the NHL right now.  Who will be his competition?  Devan Dubynk??  REALLY?!?!

          Of the top 15 goalies in the NHL right now (by wins) he and Luongo are the only two Canadians.  All the best goalies come from Europe these days.  So again, your argument is speculative, as well as irrelevant for the current topic of discussion.

          Additionally, if Lundqvist, Rinne, Quick, Ryan Miller and Tim Thomas were Canadians, Fleury wouldnt even have the privelage of riding the bench, so bringing up international play only strengthens my argument.

          This is why I despise debating hockey with Penguins fans.  You just cant objectively look at facts and come to a rational conclusion.  You sit there and say things like “oh if you watch them every night…” well guess what guy, that could be said by fans of any team for alot of their favorite players.  Just stop being so ignorant.  Your precious “flower” is not the best goalie in the league, nor has he ever been.

          Being you cant back up your opinions with facts, they mean nothing to me, and I am now DONE with this conversation.  It’s a good thing your not a real journalist because your credibility would be garbage. 

          You have obviously never lived anywhere other than the Pittsburgh area, and probably still live at home with mommy and daddy. 

          Don’t bother responding, I cant be bothered reading anything else you have to say, it’s a waste of my time.

          Enjoy living in your protective black and gold bubble.

        •  …And I apologize for getting personal at the end there, homer fans who off nothing but subjective opinions just frustrate me.   Either way, I offer my apologies for taking it to a personal level.

        • *offer nothing

        • Glock Justin says:

          You have a lot of insecurities. Fleury is better than Luongo, miller and Thomas this season and my article was not objective it was in Fleury’s favor. It’s a hockey article and you continue to take shots at me which is inappropriate. I guess my Dan Bylsma article was written in my black and gold bubble too. Good luck to you.

        • Nope.  I didn’t read your article but Dan Bylsma is a hell of a coach. I don’t know what you said about him but I probably would not disagree.  I think he’s been the best coach in the league since he came in.

    • Hi Dom – I run this joint and just wanted to take a sec and thank you for taking the time to add to the discussion – it’s very much appreciated!

      • Nice to meet you Bruce, you are welcome, but I would also like to thank you for putting all of this together.  I actually just discovered this site yesterday when I stumbled upon this article.  I have been checking it out since then and am impressed.  You and your team do an excellent job.

        -Dom

  8. Also to say he makes saves that Lundqvist and Rinne can only dream about is just not true. I don’t think you have watched either of those teams play. Lundvist’s vision is unreal he tracks the puck so well through traffic and Rinne’s reach and length allows him to get a pad on shots that most other goaltenders in the league could not.

  9. Fleury is great this is true….. but he doesn’t have to be as sharp as Rinne every night. You said it yourself Pitt is offense first and they have the top O in the league. That takes a lot of pressure off of Fleury knowing he can give up three or four and still win. I guarantee if Fleury was the starting goalie for the Nashville Predators he would not have 41 wins.       

    • It’s also much tougher on a goaltender to face 14 or 15 shots a game and staying sharp. Rinne looked pretty disgusting against the Pens the other night. The West isn’t as strong as the East either in my opinion. Thanks for reading my article and giving me your opinions respectable manner.

  10. Sorry, but Fleury doesn’t get the nod for me. Sometimes a great offense is the best defense. That’s something Fleury has going for him in spades. You say Rinne is playing in a defensive system? Well he’s faced more shots than anyone in the league. That’s not a defensive system worth bragging about. Rinne makes that defense look better than they are, not the other way around.

    Rinne’s faced almost 400 more shots than Fleury yet he has a better save %, more shutouts and just as many wins. And despite my choosing Rinne as a basis of comparison, I wouldn’t pick him for Vezina either. Lundqvist should win it. Better sv%, gaa, more shutouts and only 5 less wins in less games played.

    Sorry, but Fleury doesn’t deserve it this year.

    • I appreciate your read and respect your opinion. Fleury has played in less games than Rinne and the Pens have had a ton of injuries. The Rangers have a better defense than the Penguins do.

  11. NordiqueRouge says:

    Sorry but no. No, no, no, no, no. There are ten (TEN!) goaltenders in the League with claims as valid (if not far more so) than Flower: Lundqvist, Rinne, Elliott, Quick, Smith, Backstrom, Miller, Howard, Theodore, Lehtonen. Add-in guys who you could make an argument for (Thomas, Kiprusoff, Luongo) and you *should* get the picture.

    ‘Ridiculous’ stats? Are you talking about wins (because we all know that the best goalies are determined by their “W” tally)? ‘Cause you sure ain’t talking ’bout save percentage (where is he – oh yah – outside the top *twenty*).
    Oh, and EVERY elite goalie makes “…saves that [their rivals] dream about at night…” it comes with the territory. Check out any top goaltender’s highlight reel and you’ll see. Actually check out any crappy goaltender’s highlight reel and you’ll see even more!

    Yes, Fleury has been solid this season. Yes he’s come on particularly strong in March (‘cept for the egg he laid in Tuesday night against NYI) and yes, he’s one of the game’s better goaltenders.

    But even with one of the League’s better defenses and a lineup chock-full of all-star talent he doesn’t rate an elite save percentage or GAA. He was mediocre for much of the year and one superb month (even two – if you count his solid October) does not a Vezina winner make. 

    • #sportscolumn says:

      Your a tool bud. Good for you for trying though, everyone in the league believes he is a front runner for the vezina as well as about 8 other goalies.
       
      Have another potato chip and call yourself a hockey analyst.

    • Glock Justin says:

      Luongo isn’t the best goalie on his own team and miller has stunk. Fleury has had a lot more than one good month. Two win streaks of 9 games. Also had to deal with injuries. He’s got the pens to the top of the east with all their injuries. He’s in win lundqvist and Rinne. You can rattle off all the goalie names you like but this has been his most consistent season as a pro. Its been way more than one month. I don’t know where u get one month from

    • Thanks for reading my article. Fleury, Rinne & Lundqvist are the 3 best goalies in the league. Those other you list aren’t even close this year. Fleury will be the starter for Team Canada the next time there is an international competition.

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