HomeNHLWhat Would a Vezina Trophy Imply for Marc-Andre Fleury’s Legacy?
What Would a Vezina Trophy Imply for Marc-Andre Fleury’s Legacy?
February 25, 2021
Maybe it’s really easy for just about everybody to root for Marc-Andre Fleury as a result of he’s so quintessentially himself, yr to yr, no matter his on-ice outcomes. Whether or not we was profitable Stanley Cups in Pittsburgh because the starter or being pushed to a backup position, he was gracious, self deprecating, playful in apply, all the time approaching the sport with a smile. Whether or not he was main the Vegas Golden Knights to a Stanley Cup ultimate look in 2018 or fielding questions on shedding the crease to Robin Lehner in 2020, Fleury stayed elegant and gracious.
And now, in 2020-21, off to the very best begin of his profession, Fleury stays…Fleury. It doesn’t matter if individuals are making an attempt to anoint him the Vezina Trophy winner already or singling out that he’s getting nice outcomes taking part in deeper in his web. He’ll nonetheless steer the dialog to one thing lighthearted, as he did Monday evening when requested a few highlight-reel save on Nazem Kadri after shutting out the offensively potent Colorado Avalanche for a second time in 4 begins.
“I all the time love a two-pad stack every so often,” Fleury stated with fun. “They’re simply enjoyable. Particularly whenever you cease them, you realize?”
Shortly thereafter, Golden Knights proper winger Alex Tuch, sitting beside Fleury through the post-game Zoom name, couldn’t disguise his admiration.
“It appeared actually good.”
That’s the affable Fleury we’ve recognized all through his 17-year profession. He carries himself like some lovable backup goalie who’s nice within the room and performs 10 occasions a yr. Besides that’s not what Fleury is. He’s among the finest netminders of his era and, if he can proceed his unbelievable scorching streak lengthy sufficient, he may add his first Vezina Trophy to an already-impressive resume.
The floor stats this season are otherworldly: amongst certified starters, he leads the NHL in goals-against common (1.55), save share (.942) and shutouts (three). The Vezina voters, a.ok.a. the NHL’s energetic GMs, have extra of a traditional-stat bent than an analytics bent to their voting patterns, so Fleury is a transparent frontrunner for the award proper now, whatever the unbelievable work Kevin Lankinen and Andrei Vasilevskiy have achieved in Chicago and Tampa, respectively.
Analytically, is Fleury legit when positioned among the many 22 workhorse netminders who’ve logged 500 or extra minutes at 5-on-5 on this younger season?
On one hand, with such a powerful crew in entrance of him, Fleury doesn’t should climate a barrage of pucks each sport. In that pattern of twenty-two goalies, he sees the ninth-fewest photographs per 60, the sixth-fewest high-danger photographs per 60, and the seventh-farthest common shot distance. He has the eighth-lowest anticipated targets in opposition to per 60. So whereas his workload isn’t an absolute picnic, it grades out as beneath common on a level of issue scale. That stated, when groups get high quality probabilities, Fleury thwarts them. He leads the NHL in 5-on-5 high-danger SP, and he’s eighth in medium-danger SP. Heck, he additionally ranks top-10 in low-danger SP. So Fleury is mainly stopping the whole lot. That’s why he ranks second solely to Vasilevskiy in targets saved above common per 60. It’s spectacular as a result of there’s a development towards goalies performing higher with extra work, not much less. Connor Hellebuyck, Jacob Markstrom and Corey Crawford, for example, had phenomenal 2019-20 campaigns regardless of being among the many league’s busiest goalies, whereas the likes of Carey Value, Devan Dubnyk and Matt Murray struggled badly with sturdy defensive play in entrance of them. Fleury is staying sharp sport in, sport out regardless of stretches during which he theoretically may get chilly.
So what occurs if Fleury provides a Vezina to his record of accolades? He was already inching towards Corridor of Fame standing, however a Vezina would lock ‘Flower’ in as a first-balloter. He has the Stanley Cup rings already. From a legacy standpoint, we may award him 1.5 rings, as he led the Pens to the 2009 Cup, was a backup through the 2016 run and performed half the post-season in 2017 earlier than ceding the crease again to Matt Murray. Fleury clearly checks the field from a wins standpoint, sitting fifth all-time at 474. He has a great probability to catch Ed Belfour for fourth at 484 this season and, if Fleury performs sufficient, possibly even Roberto Luongo for third at 489. It’s usually accepted that Fleury will go Patrick Roy’s 551 and sit second solely to Martin Brodeur’s 691 by retirement. As is the case with pitchers in baseball, wins are an overrated stat – however no a lot whenever you win sufficient to rank among the many all-time leaders. At that time, you must be extremely good for a really very long time simply to be given the chance to win that many video games.
After we revealed The Hockey Information’ Prime 100 Goalies’ of All-time in 2018, we slotted Fleury 40th. Amongst goalies ranked above him on the time, 35 have been retired, and 31 of the retirees (88.6 p.c) have been Corridor of Famers. Since that version got here out, Fleury has added 70 extra wins, 16 extra shutouts and a fourth-place Vezina end.
Nonetheless, detractors would possibly level out that Fleury has by no means been the king of the citadel at his place even for a yr. He has by no means been named a first- or second-team all-star, his play has nosedived briefly at a number of junctures all through his profession, he’s by no means been a Vezina finalist, and he doesn’t have a Conn Smythe Trophy. Anybody in that camp would possibly declare that, if a two-time Cup winner who additionally has a Vezina Trophy corresponding to Tom Barrasso isn’t within the Corridor but, Fleury isn’t a lock. However a Vezina would get rid of any doubts about Flower’s Corridor name, particularly when his rap sheet additionally contains almost unrivalled longevity.
Given how effectively Fleury is taking part in, it feels astounding now that he was the topic of commerce rumors only a few months in the past and that, in accordance with a report this week, the Penguins tried to reacquire him. However there’s no probability that occurs now. Not with Lehner nonetheless on the mend, and never with proprietor Invoice Foley dedicated to conserving Fleury round. For now, he’ll maintain down the Vegas crease and hold engaged on that Vezina quest.