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and now hockey

Pens 4, Tampa Bay 2. Wow, that was a game. We were SO TERRIBLE that first period, I really wasn't sure we were even going to get a goal. And then we got four, including a short-handed goal for Sutter and two first NHL goals, one for Rust and one for Dumoulin. Good job, kiddies.

But meanwhile in that first period Fleury was SO GOOD. Wow. As soon as a gif turns up of that one really spectacular head-to-post save, I will link. EDIT: Here it is. You finally get a really good look at about the 20 second mark.

I just looked up his numbers, and he's .926 for the season so far, which if he maintains will be his best season EVER - even better than 2007-2008, which all the naysayers call a fluke. There's evidence that suggests we're seeing more this season than statistical variance, however. Mike Darnay at Pensburgh calls it the Mike Bales effect, which includes a graph that shows both how much more consistent Fleury's play has been since Bales was hired as the goalie coach and how his play is on the whole trending upward.

I've seen discussion of the fact that Pittsburgh, cash-strapped as it was when Fleury arrived, never really found him a goalie coach in those early years, and how the guy who eventually filled the position before Bales was not so much a coach as a cheerleader. So what Fleury's getting with Bales may very well be the first NHL-level goaltender coaching he's ever had - and hey, it only took nine years in the organization to get it. It means he finally has someone helping him consciously develop his positional play, his puck playing skills, and similar technical skills to supplement the famous athleticism that even all the detracters agree he has.

(Just think if he could have gotten that kind of instruction five years ago. Ouch.)

So basically, Fleury's best years may very well be ahead of him. Certainly all signs point to him being in one of them right now. As someone deeply invested in the Fleury Redemption Story, I could not be happier.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth. Comment here or there. (comment count unavailable DW replies)

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