Key Observations Heading Into Game 4 Between the Penguins and Rangers

The Pens Nation Gameday Report

By: Casey Johnston (@PensNationsCasey)

After dropping game 1 in overtime against the Rangers, the Penguins took a 2-1 series lead with back-to-back shutouts on Sunday and Monday.  Through three games, the Penguins have outscored the Rangers 7-3 and have killed all 13 of the Rangers’ power plays.  Marc-Andre Fleury has faced a total of 84 shots in this series while stopping 81 for an all-situation save % of .964.  His even strength save % has been an equally impressive .951 in this series.  Overall, his .950 even strength save % in these playoffs places him second overall behind the Bruins Tuukka Rask.  This is a substantial improvement over the 88.5% and 88.4% he has posted in the last two playoffs.  His two shutouts mark the first time since 2008 that he has posted multiple shutouts, and the first time he has ever had back-to-back shutouts, in the playoffs.  Despite his success, he still has his naysayers.

Although, some people may be moving the goalposts on Fleury…

 Say what you will about Fleury’s past.  He has laid some pretty big eggs in some pretty important moments.  Even though his past collapses are not totally on him (Jacques Martin was not brought in on a whim), Fleury still let in some soft goals that he absolutely should have made saves on.  Those moments appear to be in the past.  His time spent with a sports pshychologist and, more importantly, a new goaltending coach have done wonders  for him.

Think back to game 4 round 1 of these playoffs.  The Penguins had a 3-2 win against the Blue Jackets pretty much in the bag.  Fleury badly misplayed a puck behind the net to allow the game-tying goal.  He allowed the winning goal in overtime on a blue line shot from Nick Foligno.  In the past, that would have the been the beginning of the unraveling of Marc-Andre Fleury.  Instead, he responded with a 23-saves-on-24-shots performance in game 5.  Whatever was going on with Marc-Andre Fleury in the past, whether it was in his head or his technique, appears to be in the past, and the Penguins are looking like real contenders because of it.