Friday, September 25, 2009

Blueland Guest Goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury

Finally, my last installment of Blueland Guest Goalie. I've saved one of the best for last, Marc-Andre Fleury. Flower had a heck of a season that ended with him hoisting the Stanley Cup. This picture is not mine, I ripped it off from the Internet. It is possibly the most important save of his career. With this diving "secret service" save, he prevented the Red Wings from tying the game in the final moments of Game 7 and kept his team ahead to win the cup. Man I love this picture.

When Flower and the Pens came through Blueland in December, it was his first game back in several weeks due to an injury. I was very excited to see him and made him this sign. I learned to photograph my signs BEFORE the game, beer got spilled on this one. Everyone knows the rest of the story. He saw my sign and tapped the glass at me, forever endearing himself to me.

What's not to love about Flower?? He's a great goalie, he's adorable and funny. And he and I have almost the same last name, just in a different language.

He's a bad ass Guitar Hero/Rock Band drummer like I am (he might not play on easy like I do though)

He's got a great sense of humor. Anyone that can get a prank on Army is something special! (Do you know where I can find a bag that comes with a goalie inside?

And, one of my favorite videos is after he won the cup, they ask him what he was thinking those last few seconds of the game.

So let's do this one more time for the summer.

Marc-Andre Fleury was born on November 28, 1984 in Sorel-Tracy, Quebec to Andre and France Fleury. Flower has a younger sister named Marylene.

Flower started his junior hockey in 2000 with the Cape Brenton Screaming Eagles. He spent 4 seasons with the Screaming Eagles. Statistically, his best season was the 2001-02 season when he went 26-14-9 and had a 2.78 GAA. The 2002-03 season was a strong one for Flower as well including a silver medal with Team Canada at the World Junior Championships and making the QMJHL Second Team All Stars. The Screaming Eagles thought so much of Flower and the time he spent on their team that on January 26, 2008 they retired his number and lifted his number to the top of the rafters.

On June 21, 2003 Fleury was selected in the first round (first overall) by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL Entry Draft. Flower was only the third goalie to be chosen first overall in the NHL draft.

Flower immediately made his NHL debut on October 10, 2003 against the Los Angeles Kings. He stopped an incredible 46 of 48 shots, including a penalty shot, but ultimately the Pens lost 3-0. Flower got his first NHL win with his next start. On October 18, against the Detroit Red Wings, Flower made 31 saves and led the team to a 4-3 victory. He got his first NHL shut out on October 30 against the Blackhawks.

Flower was sharing net time with Jean-Sebastian Aubin and Sebastien Caron and living up to the hype of his first overall pick expectations. He earned Rookie of the Month in October, had a 1.96 GAA and a .943 SV%. As the season progressed, his game began to suffer, partly due to Pittsburgh's poor defense. Flower was loaned to Team Canada for the World Junior Championships and returned with a Silver Medal.

After returning from World Junior Championships, Flower was sent back to the QMJHL. Pittsburgh was having financial difficulties and it was speculated one of the reasons they sent Flower back was to avoid having to pay his $3 million bonus. Flower offered to forfeit the bonus in order to stay, but he returned to the Screaming Eagles and finished the season there, playing in the post season until they were eliminated in the first round. Flower then went to the AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and appeared in 2 playoff games.

With the NHL shut down for the 2005-06 labor dispute, Flower continued to play with the Baby Pens, where he posted a 26-19-4 record, a 2.52 GAA and a .901 SV%. When the dispute was over and the NHL resumed for the 2005-06 season, Flower started off with the Baby Pens again, but was quickly called up to Pittsburgh for a game against Buffalo when Jocelyn Thibault was injured. Flower split time between Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Pittsburgh until November 28, after which he remained in Pittsburgh. That season Pittsburgh finished last in the Eastern Conference and allowing a league worst 316 goals. Despite his 3.25 GAA and .898 SV% Flower emerged as the starting goalie over Caron and Thibault.

During the 2006-07 season, the Flower got to play behind a better team. The Pens had added Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and Flowers' stats were improving dramatically. He recorded 5 shut outs and a 2.83 GAA. He also broke the record (held by my beloved Moose) for single season games played. Fleury made his NHL playoff debut against the Ottawa Senators. Flower made a strong showing, but the Pens were eliminated in the first round.

Flower started the 2007-08 slowly, but picked things up with a four game winning streak before going down with an ankle injury in December. He returned in March after a brief reconditioning stint in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. That season Flower made me VERY happy by changing his pad color from the screaming yellow (banana pads) to a plain white in order to gain an optical illusion against shooters. The Pens went all the way to the Stanley Cup finals that season, but lost in 6 games. In one of my favorite games of all time, Game 5 Flower played like a maniac and kept the Pens in it through 3 OTs.

Well we all know how 2008-09 ended. It ended with Flower coming back from a horrific performance in Game 5, bouncing back for Game 6 and being spectacular in Game 7 making my all time favorite save, the Secret Service Save. Congrats Flower! Just wait until you see the sign I will have for you next time you come to Blueland!

One cute tidbit of info, Flower's girlfriend (yes ladies he has one, don't they all?) is named Veronique and he has known her since like birth. Okay, maybe not birth, but since they were teenagers. If I remember correctly, they were neighbors. So cute.

Friend of the blog, Mr. Fred was nice enough to let me use a few photos he took of MAF.

Nice glove there, Flower!

MAF stopping one of our shots (bad MAF!)

Flower waiting for the puck.


SMO Cat September 29, 2009 at 7:45 PM  

I love Fleury - Travis and I call him "Jaws," cause when he smiles, he's all teeth. Grr, baby. :)

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