GAME SIX: Capitals 5, Pens 4 (OT) — I’m Not Saying Everything Was Fleury’s Fault, Just The Outcome Of Last Night’s Hockey Game

I hate throwing a loss squarely on a goalie’s shoulders, particularly when it’s a 5-4 overtime loss when a team failed to score on a 5-on-3 and another power play with two minutes left in regulation and the Hal Gill semi-decent carriage has turned back into an ineffective pumpkin and Chris Kunitz continues to be the least impactful human in the building on any given night (including the backup goalies, the linesmen, the stadium ushers, etc), and I always feel like throwing a goalie under the bus is one step above blaming the refs on the knee-jerk, “I’m angry after the game and need a scapegoat” Fan Scale, but all that devil’s-advocate prefacing aside, this loss was on Marc-Andre Fleury, pure and simple.

If you outshoot a team 42-24, you should win, and if you give up 24 shots, your goalie should not give up five goals. No amount of “it’s the quality of the chances” or “well, there was kind of a screen on this one” or “well, it was a nice shot” excuses the most basic interpretations of these numbers when they’re that far out of whack. It’d be one thing if Fleury had an average game and the Pens’ offense or defense just let them down, or if Fleury failed to step up and steal a game in which they were outplayed, but he was just outright terrible in Game Six, and there’s just no arguing around it.

I wrote this angry Fleury post on Melt Your Face Off last year after Fleury let in a terrible game-winning goal in Game Four of the Cup Finals, and he rebounded in Game Five with his career-defining triple overtime performance; he doesn’t have to do that in Game Seven against the Capitals, but he at least needs to return to being a normal NHL goalie. He wasted an otherwise dominant first and third period performance by the guys in front of him and a chance to close out a series on home ice, and there’s no guarantee the Pens can keep up that shot-differential for a third straight game regardless of Fleury’s performance. If the Pens lose Game Seven, Fleury’s $5+ million/yr contract will start looking like an albatross in no time.

Other crap:

— I ripped on Viktor Kozlov, Alexander Semin, and Tom Poti in my last recap, and they all responded with their best games of the series. I also quasi made fun of David Steckel (and Rob Scuderi) for their anonymity before Game One, and Steckel got the game-winning goal in OT, his third goal of the series. So this time, I’ll just say that the Capitals are the greatest group of players and individuals ever assembled in organized sport, especially Ovechkin and Varlamov.

— I’m really tired of hearing about the Pens’ playoff dominance of the Capitals in past years, particularly in overtime. What happened between Jiri Slegr and Jeff Halpern nine years ago bears absolutely no impact on the 2009 Playoffs any more than any other combination of two human beings who are also not playing in this series. Charles de Gaulle and Yahoo Serious, to name one example.

— In Game Five just prior to overtime, the FSN Pittsburgh announcers mentioned that Kunitz was “saving it up for that big moment,” and tonight mentioned that Semin and Kozlov finally got on the board and that “maybe Kunitz would follow suit.” Those are two very generous ways to say “How can Chris Kunitz possibly be so useless?”

— Hal Gill sucks again. Hopefully last night squelched the Pens Q&A mini-outrage when they don’t re-sign him this summer.

— When the Versus Commentators are talking about how well Rob Scuderi is playing, it’s probably a bad sign heading into his contract negotiations next year. He’s definitely raised his profile significantly this series, much like that damn Orpik shift against the Red Wings where he hit three people and it’s now costing the team about an extra million dollars a year.

— How mad was I after the game? I unleashed about three sentences worth of vicious swearing at Bruce Boudreau, the most harmlessly likable man associated with the National Hockey League. I will apologize to the screen if the Pens win Wednesday.

— Anyone around the NHL notice Crosby trying to single-handedly will his team to victory in the third and OT, cutting to the net and sprinting in both directions for the entire duration of every shift despite not having linemates? No, still a whiner and a diver? Ok, just checking.

— When the game-winning goal went in, before I could even open my phone, I received a text that said “F-ing nothing shot!” and another that just said “Fleury sucks” from two separate friends. Always nice to know that us irrationally angry, immediately judgmental fans are never alone in this world.


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2 Responses to “GAME SIX: Capitals 5, Pens 4 (OT) — I’m Not Saying Everything Was Fleury’s Fault, Just The Outcome Of Last Night’s Hockey Game”

  1. Mark Says:

    My thoughts exactly. Fleury was awful…. that OT goal was in excusable.

  2. AD Says:

    Fleury needs to steal one for us tomorrow. He’s been outplayed by Varlamov every game this series. Also, when we lost, I cursed your post from last game as it was obvious that Semin read it and played awesome to show you up. Damn you Marc Andre Fleury and Danny Hopper.

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