Weather warming, birds singing, Marc-Andre Fleury spazzing out. These are the rites of Spring. When Nick Foligno chipped an innocent shot from the blue line on Wednesday night, the Pittsburgh goalie’s programming kicked in: Must. Allow. Weak-ass goal.

That softie won the game for Lumbus in overtime, tying the series 2-2, and sending Penguins fans into conniption fits. All for good reason: a shot from the blue line has like a 1-in-50 chance of going in– maybe less. It should have been a routine save for Fleury. His gaffe on the tying goal in the third period shouldn’t have happened either.

So Fleury is the Escape Goat, again, but I fear that reputation might obscure how truly bad the entire Penguins team was in this game. Really, it’s the whole team’s fault.

During the regular season, the Pens were not a great team when playing with the lead. On Wednesday, it burned them. Pittsburgh started great, earning a 3-0 lead just fifteen minutes into the game. But after a power play following James Neal‘s would-be back breaker, the Penguins just stopped.

Fenwick chart for 2014-04-23 Penguins 3 at Blue Jackets 4 (OT)

For the rest of the game, Columbus out-shot Pittsburgh 63 to 30 (including blocked shots and misses). The Blue Jackets had the puck twice as much as the Penguins, and made them pay for the mistake.

With 24 seconds left in regulation, Fleury abandoned the net. File under unwise.

GIFs by Pete Blackburn

And then, in overtime, the most dreaded weapon from Nick Foligno‘s arsenal: a casual wrister from the blue.

He never stood a chance.

Fleury faced 39 shots on goal in the final 45 minutes of #rego and the remainder in OT. That’d be a 77th percentile workload in a full regular-season game. Fleury stopped 35 of those shots for a .897 save percentage. That looks bad, but it’s still better than about 39% of games played during the regular season.

On the other end of the ice, after the fifteen-minute mark Sergei Bobrovsky needed to stop just 15 shots– or one every three minutes– to help his team eke out the win.

I don’t want to stop anyone from schadening Fleury’s freude-– that’s my favorite thing about this time of year, but his team shouldn’t be let off the hook. The Penguins fed MAF to the wolves. (The wolves, in this metaphor, are an empty-net chip and a beach ball from the blue line.)

On the other hand, you could think about this way: Lumbus were stellar in the comeback.

Go Lumbus.

As usual, ExtraSkater and Pete Blackburn are the best.

Tagged with:
  • Wouldn’t it be HILARIOUS is Dan Bylsma loses his job over this?

    And then, he, like, needs a new job?



  • ThrowmetheWHIP

    This recap belongs in a museum!

  • Dan

    I’m sure that’s why Ted hasn’t done anything yet…

  • Josh Carey

    I loved this game so much. Everything about it all the way up to Fleury being Fleury.

    EDIT: I deleted the part where I was a smartass cause I realized that you were referring to the final 45 minutes of the game when saying Bob needed to save one every three minutes 😀

    PS: That picture you guys tweeted is amazing.

  • JenniferH

    Ah, Lumbus, we’re rooting for you! We’re all rooting for you SO HARD! MAF, you never let us down. And Pens, keep it up, just keep on keeping it up.

  • Rob W.

    I have been thinking about him as our coach for a while but didnt say anything because i didnt know how the rmnb crowd would react

  • john_koenig

    Nashville has much better weather than Pittsburgh.

  • JenniferH

    Well, his first name doesn’t begin with A and end with Dam. That’s a plus. And his last name isn’t eaten by horses. Another plus.

  • Rob W.

    Crosby -2 but you know that stat is only applicable when it comes to Ovi…looking at you roenick and milbury

  • Sorry, I’ll clarify– he only needed to save that many AFTER the fifteen minute mark. ~ 48minutes

  • DC’s weather is


    we got Ben’s Chili Bowl

  • Owen Johnson

    Did you also know Ovechkin chokes in the Playoffs and Crosby is a proven winner?

  • Yes. I have heard this.

  • But they both are actually AMAZING playoff players


    Crosby is #1, Ovi #5.

  • Jimmie

    Don’t. You. Dare.

  • Rob W.

    The cup and gold medal games, crosby didnt exactly put the teams on his back

  • Chris Cerullo

    I think most Pens fans actually dislike Bylsma and after the Olympics, I’m not sure I like him as a coach either.

  • Josh Carey

    Also of those top 100 PPG guys, he’s in the top 20 in +/-.

  • Owen Johnson

    Winning a Stanley Cup on a stacked team and winning Gold for Canada aren’t really major accomplishments.
    It’s not basketball. One player doesn’t make that big of a difference. Even one as great as Sid.

  • Karen

    Lee Stempniak was only -1 and had the same number of SOG (3) as Crosby. Two other players (Kunitz and Neal) had more SOG than Crosby. Oh, and Crosby was one of tree Pens left laying on the ice, crying in the crease, when Dubinsky tied it up with 22.5s left to play (Letang and Fleury being the other two).

  • Sarah

    Reminds me of that awesome typo “goatlending” from a while back. Goaltender who gets blamed for everything ==> goatlender.

  • Freedoooom

    Right now, I’d kill for some regular season success.

    Not going on this series, but usually every series they lose they go into total disarray because Crosby and Malkin are easily picked on in the playoffs. Ovechkin never gets picked on, but Backstrom was in the Bruins series…

  • I could’ve won gold for Canada

    Actually let me check I might have

    Okay no I didn’t

    but I could

  • Catherine__M

    Beer. Nose. Mission Accomplished?

  • Catherine__M

    Ugh, all things considered, I’d rather be in Philadelphia.

  • “PS: That picture you guys tweeted is amazing.”

    ALL ME.

  • troyerlaw

    That’s why I hope the rumors are untrue about Caps being close to major announcement. I wish Leonsis would wait a bit longer, to see which coaches and/or GMs get fired around the league. There may be a guy we want to snap up. Not Bylsma, mind you (who damn well ought to get s***canned if Pens lose to Lumbus), but at least someone who: a) is not a former Caps player; and b) has some prior NHL coaching experience. Larry Robinson would be nice, but apparently he doesn’t want to be a head coach? I’m worried we’ll get Konowalchuk or Kelly Miller or Scott Stevens. All great players, mind you, but we don’t need a brand-new NHL coach. I’m worried he might do same thing w/ Bondra as GM. Laviolette wouldn’t be end of the world, as a hire.

  • kuznetsy

    What about John Stevens? He has head coaching experience with the flyers and is now an assistant for a pretty good kings team. Maybe he’d like to be a head coach again ???
    I’ll admit that I don’t know much about his coaching style but it was just a thought.

  • Shaun Phillips

    Don’t want him in DC. He’s an overrated coach like Torts. Only things he’s won is because he’s been gifted with a roster stocked of top 5 picks. Babcock outcoached him in the Olympics and, if it hadn’t been for a miraculous save by Flower, would’ve had 2 cups over him.

  • Shaun Phillips

    To be fair to Fleury, it did look like that puck was on edge when Foligno took the shot and it knuckled on him. No love here for the Penguins, but always have a soft spot for goalies who get unlucky.

  • Dark Stranger

    On Cherry’s comment, someone clearly did not get a certain memo.

  • Dark Stranger

    Shouldn’t the photoshop of Fleury also include flowers? It is a rite of spring. LOL!

  • Rob T

    Why is Peter Laviolette not our coach yet?

  • Matt
  • hess

    despite fleury’s attempt to corral the puck behind his net, columbus simply outworked the pens most of the nite. that is the type of effort the capitals are missing dearly.

  • hess

    first things first, dump gmgm.

  • tpr04

    How about Letang and Crosby not giving up the body to block that shot – especially Letang, who looks to have thrown a skate out there. If either of those guys go down on the ice, that’s a blocked shot. Kind of like what Columbus did in OT.

  • tpr04

    I agree. Bring in Laviolette. Though I suspect Ted wants to hire the GM first and let him bring in Laviolette. Takes a while to sequence things I guess.

  • hess

    nice avatar tpr.

    columbus has taken malkin and crosby out of this series, and i would suspect the pens will be ready for columbus saturday in pittsburgh.

  • hess

    i’m reading the CSN board and noticed your comment to chuck in regards to fluffy. keep fighting the good fight. i only wish i could help in some fashion.
    stay thirsty tpr!!!

  • yv

    As D. Dreger said ‘if you are blaming Fleury then blame also Crosby, who can’t score now in 9 playoffs games…”. Second time in series Crosby is -2 for the game, and -3 for the series. It could be fine with me if not a nauseating Pier McG comments when he keep mentioning Crosby with the words great, brilliant, how great Crosby is, etc. Hey Pier, just stop embarrassing Crosby with your public love fest.

  • hess

    mr magoo has an IQ of about 50. i hate all the drama he throws out on a nitely basis.

  • Myan

    Yeah but then you’d have to actually live in Nashville…

  • Myan

    I actually really like MAF and his chiclets.

  • john_koenig

    Only a moron would rather live in Pittsburgh.

  • Myan

    LOL maybe that’s true but I live in Nashville and it sucks. The weather is really beautiful though!

  • JoeA

    There are at least two more games left in this series. It is not wise to dance on anyone’s grave just yet.

    Only thing Crosby needs to do is score, or even assist on just one game winning goal to eliminate ‘Lumbus and the angles from on high will sing praises to his name for all eternity.

    Kinds wants to make me throw up a little.

  • JoeA

    Who would be a better replacement for GMGM that is actually available?

  • john_koenig

    I live in Columbus. From my experiences in both cities (business trips in Nashville, married to a Pittsburgh girl), there’s no comparison. Pittsburgh has the terrible trifecta of nasty natives, woeful weather and egregious unemployment. Make that four…it’s a city of the elderly, too.
    My experiences in Nashville have been nothing but positive…granted, just visiting, but long enough visits over several years to see that it’s not awful. Awful is Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, St. Louis, Birmingham, Memphis and Little Rock.

  • Rhino40


  • Myan

    When you go beyond central Nashville, the city”s socioeconomic problems become really apparent. Unlike in other cities where I’ve lived, there is very little diversity in the city’s established and safe neighborhoods.

  • john_koenig

    No different than Columbus…whites need to avoid the est side. Every city has its slums and ghettos.
    I live in a suburb that is the equivalent of Franklin, TN. All I require is the suburbs and the downtown entertainment/office area.
    As for your potential coach, you might want to look at Claude Noel. Highly underrated and did a great job here with the Jackets.

  • christine

    Marc-Andre Romo!

  • Joel Yeluaccm

    Escape goat? you mean Scapegoat right?

  • No. You must be confused.

  • VeggieTart

    I’m doing the evil bitch thing and hoping against hope that Crybaby goes goalless in the series–heck in the playoffs. I just don’t want to imagine how Pierre McBlabbermouth will drown his sorrows once the Pens get eliminated.

  • Graham Dumas

    Wait, THAT’s where “escape goat” is from? And here I thought you all were just trolling the lexically challenged in general. That you’re trolling Don Cherry is the, ummmmmmm, like, errr, Cherry… on that… gravy. It’s, it’s like a poutine of awesome.

  • Graham Dumas

    SO DO YOU!

  • Glenn Havinoviski

    I’m waiting for Ted to announce after the season that Mike Milbury is the new GM/coach. Heck, I’m sure he’d do something about Ovi’s +/-.

  • Myan

    I don’t know much about Claude Noel except that he cried when he got axed from Winnipeg. What was the problem during his tenure?

  • Steve

    Cant stop a fockin beech boll. See beesh boll is bigger den puck. This why joke is

  • john_koenig
  • Eric Schulz

    I don’t feel like we need to wait, necessarily, because Trotz and Laviolette would both be really good fits.

  • Eric Schulz

    But… then you’d be surrounded by Philadelphians…. uh, no.

  • Bugs Fire

    The only thing worse than Pittsburgh fans blaming Fleury for lack of postseason success since his one timely save against Detroit is Kings’ faithful mocking Quick after he dropped his stick that one time against Rangers. Because Quick is as close to the “one player winning the Cup” as one can possibly get. Yes, Fleury messed up a little, but what was the rest of the team doing most of the game?

    Unrelated: it is really depressing how much better Western Conference is. The two teams that came over in realignment (Detroit and Columbus) made the playoffs and are now seriously challenging two best teams in the East (Bruins and Pens). What did East send over to the West? Right, Jets.

  • Eric Schulz

    Ovie was 1, then Hunter took over. I don’t like that guy; limited coach.

  • Eric Schulz

    I was gonna post the same thing… still might. Excellent scene, very solid movie.

  • Eric Schulz

    Same thing. BOOM.

  • Shaun Phillips

    As 2 options for coach or one of them as GM? If they’re coach, who do you see as GM?

  • Shaun Phillips

    That save still ticks me off. Hated to see Lidstrom go out like that. 🙁

  • Sarah

    I thought I was the only one.

  • Crossfiyah

    …Escape goat?

    ESCAPE goat?


  • Eric Schulz

    I like both of them as coaches. Some argue that Trotz was too defense-oriented; I believe that he was that way because of his personnel. If he’s a good coach, he’ll bring some defense to us, but he’ll maximize our talent/fit, and he won’t go as defense-heavy as he did in Nashville. That’s what a good coach does: maximize talent, put guys in the best position to succeed, identify the strengths and weaknesses of the roster. All essentially the same way of saying: figuring out a fit for the team rather than bringing a scheme to the team and demanding that the players fit into your scheme. I THINK Trotz is a guy who will do that; I thought the same of D’Antoni also, and when he coached for the Lakers he proved me wrong. He reminded me of Hunter: a good fit with the right personnel for his system, but when it’s not, he’s awful. I’m not SURE Trotz is the guy I think he is, he’s been with the same team so long it’s impossible to know for sure, but I’m optimistic (and we aren’t as offensively talented as we used to be, it’d be nice to have a coach bring more defense, he just can’t be Hunter-stubborn with it).
    Laviolette made the playoffs with the Flyers while getting .906 goaltending that year; that’s incredible, and speaks very well for his ability to coach, although I’m not as familiar with him because I hate the Flyers. That fact impressed me enough that I’d be very happy in the event he’s the one hired.
    As far as coaches out there… here’s an article written for a Maple Leafs’ blog, but it’s analyzing of coaches is just as interesting for Caps fans (or should be):

  • Shaun Phillips

    Nope. As a former goalie, I can totally understand. When that puck gets on edge, it does weird things.

  • The Cherry

    …and those “angles” will be acutely obtuse…

  • Roman Z.

    I doubt many have knowledge of the exquisite culinary dish that is poutine!

  • Jonah

    agh spring, the time when some flowers bloom, and others wilter.

  • Jonah

    the problem isn’t that OV is picked on, its that opposing teams put their best D pairing against him. seidenberg-chara and mcdonagh-girardi.

  • Jonah

    JenniferH wins comment of the year.

  • Jonah

    i appreciate the sarcasm and the little chuckle that your comment brought me.
    but you are scaring the sh*t out of me that this is somehow the only blog comment that ted reads.

  • JenniferH

    Thank you, thank you very much. 🙂