What's up with Marc-Andre Fleury and the soft goals?

Penguins Q&A with Dave Molinari

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Question: Here we go again. A strong start by the Pens is absolutely squashed yet again as Marc-Andre Fleury gives up another soft goal. What does that make, 20 soft goals in the playoffs? If I was Ray Shero, I am already in contact with other GMs to see what I can get in a trade for Fleury. I have been saying this for two years: The Penguins will never win a Cup with Fleury in net. I hope and pray he proves me wrong this year. If he does, I will shut up about Fleury. But the only thing Fleury is consistent at is being inconsistent. Sure, he plays great against Atlanta or whoever in a meaningless game in January, but when the chips are on the table in June, Fleury and his invisible glove hand are nowhere to be found.

John Carroll, Greentree

MOLINARI: Would that be the same invisible glove hand that was responsible for many of his 37 saves during Game 4, or the 27 he made during Game 3? Just wondering.

Obviously, Fleury had an awful game Saturday night, but good luck trying to identify more than a few of his teammates -- take a bow, Mathieu Garon -- of whom the same could not be said. Fleury did absolutely nothing to prevent the Penguins from losing that game and, because he plays the most important position on the team, bears greater responsibility than most for what happened in Game 5.

To suggest that the defeat should be pinned solely on Fleury simply isn't logical, however. Not unless he also should be held accountable for the Penguins' failure to score. Frankly, based on the Penguins' inability to generate quality chances in Game 5, the suspicion here is that if Fleury had turned in the greatest performance in the history of goaltending, the game still would be scoreless at this point and heading into the 247th overtime.

It's been obvious for a while that Fleury is a lightning rod for criticism, some valid, some not. Becoming more consistent likely would stop a lot of it, but the only real antidote is to win a championship, Or, in the case of some of his more committed bashers, to never allow another goal for the rest of his natural life.

Question:Was Saturday's game a "makeup" for the too-many-men call the refs missed and the embarrassment (Detroit coach Mike) Babcock caused the league with his statement naming a ref in the fiasco the other night? To me, the calls appeared remarkably one-sided for much of the game, with the Pens being penalized for stuff the Wings got away with all game (and all series) long.

Brian Altmann, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

MOLINARI: A lot of people had a profound impact on how Game 5 played out. None was wearing a striped shirt.

The Red Wings deserve credit for the many things they did well Saturday night, just as the Penguins deserve to be blistered not only for the way they played, but for their frequent losses of composure. Frankly, the penalties they were assessed during the second period, when Detroit blew the game open with three power-play goals, would have been pretty tough for referees Paul Devorski and Dennis LaRue to ignore.

As mentioned last week, the thinking here is that the rules should be called the way they're written, and that the officials have been far too forgiving of interference- and obstruction-type infractions during the Cup final. However, Devorski and LaRue could have called everything -- or nothing, or anything in between -- during Game 5 and it wouldn't have changed how the game turned out.

Question:So, what do you think of the adage that sometimes it's better to get blown out than to lose a close game?

Jeremy Rees, Sur, Oman

MOLINARI: That probably depends on how the team that's on the wrong end of the blowout -- say, one like Game 5 -- takes it.

If the Penguins interpret what happened at Joe Louis Arena Saturday as evidence that Detroit can take its game to a level they simply can't reach, the series is all but officially over and the guys responsible for getting the Stanley Cup ready to be presented should being polishing it with a little extra urgency.

If, however, they see that game as the confluence of several unfortunate events -- some of their own making, some a credit to the Red Wings -- and an exorcism of sorts that purged any number of physical and mental issues from their systems, they should be able to get over it and be refocused long before the opening faceoff in Game 6.

It won't take long Tuesday night to figure out which is the case.


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