Bylsma: 'Marc-Andre will be in net for the next four games'
Following a frustrating 8-4 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, the Pittsburgh Penguins found themselves starring at a difficult challenge.
Down three games to none in the series, Pittsburgh’s season will now be planned out 20 minutes at a time, with each decision possibly being the team’s last. After allowing a total of 17 goals in three games, one of the biggest decisions the Penguins will face coming into a pivotal Game 4 will be whether goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury will be given another chance to play.
Coach Dan Bylsma was unphased and direct when being questioned about the fate of his goaltender.
“Marc-Andre will be in net for Game 4,” he said without missing a beat. “Marc-Andre will be in net for the next four games.”
While he never directly addressed the issue, Bylsma made it clear that he expects his team to comeback in this series. Despite holding and eventually blowing five separate leads through three games, the Penguins’ headman was unwaivered in his confidence for his team and most importantly, his goaltender.
Despite Bylsma’s faith, Fleury’s play has been far from comforting.
Lauded as the preeminent playoff performer in the game today, the 27-year old has painfully underperformed in his three starts in this series. In fact, underperformed doesn’t do his play justice. Registering a goals against average of 6.34 and a save percentage of .797, Fleury is a far cry from the playoff giant that he was made out to be.
Coming into this series, his reputation in the playoffs spoke far louder than the reality of his play. With many disregarding his fairly unimpressive playoff numbers in recent years, Fleury was considered to be one of the biggest variables in this series.
Ultimately, he has. Just not in the way any one had anticipated.
With soft goals a plenty, Fleury has also failed to control his rebounds, leaving gift-wrapped second chance opportunities for the Flyers. Opportunities, which they have taken full advantage of.
Despite this, the Flyers remain respectful of their opponent.
“He's a good goalie I mean he's won it all and we got to make sure we keep shooting pucks on him because he's going to be pretty focused for game 4," Claude Giroux said. “We've been able to get a couple lucky bounces past him and guys are shooting the puck because we know the more we shoot the more chances we have to score goals.”
Regardless of how poor Fleury’s play has been, it is smart to realize that he has the potential to turn things around. The last thing the Flyers want to do is underestimate their opponent, look ahead to the second round and allow a lethal Penguins team to climb back in this series.
“They can score a lot of goals,” Giroux said. "If there's a team that can come back from 3-0 this year I think it's them so we need to understand that, we need to make sure that we're focused for Wednesday.”
Ultimately, Giroux’s words ring loud. The fear for the Flyers is with the Penguins ability to score goals. Not to stop them.
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