Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is going to receive a great deal of attention during the 2013-14 regular season. After registering a dismal showing in the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs, which amounted to a .883 save percentage and 3.52 goals against average over five appearances, questions persist about the future of the 28-year-old goaltender.
While the jury is still out on Fleury in the court of public opinion, his coach is unfazed by last season. Dan Bylsma stated on Thursday afternoon that Fleury will be the Penguins' starting goaltender when the team hosts the New Jersey Devils on Oct. 3.
Bylsma on Fleury not starting the opener: "I don't see that as a possibility."— Sean Gentille (@seangentille) September 12, 2013
Whether Bylsma will stay true to his word remains to be seen.
According to accounts from the team's first day of training camp, Fleury struggled in a team scrimmage where he allowed three goals on three shots and scored some kind of own goal that, apparently, was too ugly for words:
Fleury just allowed a goal that can't be described. It was an own goal. I will leave it at that.— Josh Yohe (@JoshYohe_Trib) September 12, 2013
Fleury finished the day with four goals allowed, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
Marc-Andre Fleury allowed four goals - including three on as many shots to open the scrimmage - for Group A. It was only a scrimmage, but it was also not the most encouraging start for a franchise goalie that was pulled from last postseason.
So, things aren't looking too good for Fleury, who was/still is meeting with a sports psychologist to attempt to correct whatever mental blocks he might have. Ultimately, it's the first practice of the season and drawing conclusions about anything at this point is inspired purely by boredom or naivety. But, that's not to say Fleury isn't worth being concerned about.
He played poorly in the playoffs and, at times, looked like he didn't belong at the NHL level. Some of the goals he allowed against the Islanders in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinal were unbelievably bad and are still stunning to think about to this day.
The Penguins are a stacked team and legitimate contenders for the Eastern Conference Championship if all their core players can avoid extended absences due to injury. Fleury is, at the very least, going to be expected to post average numbers, which is a fairly simple request. In the event he falls off the rails again, the club still has Tomas Vokoun, who performed admirably last spring.
Of course, one would imagine the Penguins are hoping Fleury can carry the No. 1 role without issue.