He's banged out beastly Homer-esque comments with a high level of consistency.
MAF critics seldom ever suggest anyone better because they fail to realize there really isn't anyone out there who you could plug in and definitively say IS better.
Well, Luongo's career playoff series record is 2-2. I'll see that and raise him Fleury's playoff series record of 7-1 over the last two years. Luongo has never sniffed a conference championship series while Fleury's not just played in two – he's won both of them. Luongo hasn't yet earned the right to be called anything better than average once the calendar flips to late April/early May.
Not after the Pens systematically exposed every hole in his game two years ago. He hasn't really carried the same aura of dominance that he had before that series.
* Over the last two years, Fleury has played in eight playoff series and won seven. The last five playoff series the Pens have won, Fleury has closed the door on the road.
* He's won head-to-head matchups convincingly with Henrik Lundqvist and Cam Ward (a long-time go-to-guy for Fleury critics until MAF won his Cup last year).
* In two straight years, he's held the Flyers – the team in the Eastern Conference with probably the deepest corps of scoring forwards – to 25 goals in 11 playoff games.
* He held a potent Caps offense to three goals or less in five of those seven games last year and his save on Ovechkin in Game Seven – on the road – probably changed the entire makeup of that game.
And yes, I just quoted "Cocktail."
- Want another reason to be thankful for Fleury? Look at the cap hell the Bruins currently find themselves with Tim Thomas. They've got three more years of him at $5 million per year. Most average-to-above-average goaltenders contribute as 60-game starters in their late 20's and then play at that level through their early 30's. Most elite goaltenders begin to contribute at that level in their early-to-mid 20's. Fleury you'll gladly find in the latter. It's very difficult to replace that.
- I know they're no longer youngins by any standard, but when did Keith Tkachuk and Mark Recchi start aging in dog years? Watching Matt Cooke Retribution Night last week, I kept seeing Recchi out there and thought I was watching Billy Joel in hockey equipment.
- The very public, very defiant and unconditional defending of Alexander Ovechkin's hit on Brian Campbell by the Capitals organization was sickening. It's one thing for an organization to stand by its player. It's a completely different thing for ownership, management and the coaching staff to continually excuse his reckless play as boundless energy and passion, to ignore that the hit he laid on Campbell was in fact a textbook penalty, and to play down an act that landed Campbell with a concussion and broken bones as "just a little push." If Ovechkin is the kid who gets caught by the teacher punching another kid and gets sent to detention, Boudreau and Leonsis are the parents who go to the school board demanding the teacher get fired.
- I'd love to know how many Flyers fans secretly hated the idea of allocating all of that cap money to Chris Pronger as opposed to making a trade that could've upgraded the goaltending. If you're one of those fans, aren't you fighting off the urge to projectile vomit every time you realize that your team is now facing a the prospects of a playoff run with Brian Boucher as their primary goaltender and a $6 million defenseman that's been turned into a pylon by Ruslan Fedotenko?
- Want an early candidate for Team Massive Roster Turnover this summer? How about Boston? That game against the Penguins last weekend spoke volumes about potential chemistry issues with that team. We all knew Cooke was going to be challenged, but all we heard all week coming out of Boston was how the Bruins were going to play this physical, punishing game against the Penguins, hitting them every time the Pens had the puck, finishing checks, blah, blah, blah. Shawn Thornton squared off with Cooke a couple of minutes into that game and that was it. Chara's efforts to get his team back in the game with a fight against Mike Rupp generated absolutely nothing but a stupid penalty 45 seconds later. By the third period, the Boston fans were booing their own team off the ice. Boston GM Peter Chiarelli has his work cut out for him.
- Sad – The very same weekend the Phoenix Coyotes ascend to a tie for the Western Conference standings lead with the Chicago Blackhawks, Pierre Lebrun of ESPN writes in his blog that the Coyotes ownership still is not secure and that relocation of the team may still be an optio[ESPN]
- Speaking of the Sharks, they've lost five in a row. They know it's just late March and not late April, right?
- As Staff has pointed out in recent posts, we're going to find out a lot about just how ready this Pens team is for the playoffs in this upcoming week. Buckle up. I believe this team is one of the few Eastern Conference teams that no one wants to play in a seven-game playoff series and as much as their fans don't want to admit it, Caps fans are probably the ones who want to see the Pens the least. And as strange as it sounds, I like to think this Pens team is actually built to win more in the playoffs than it is in the regular season. But there were some elements to the style of game the Pens played last year that seem to be missing with alarming consistency from game to game this year and I'd be lying if I said that didn't have me at least a little bit worried.