I’m going to make something very clear.
1.Do not solely blame the goalie for the loss.
2.Do not let the goalie completely off the hook for the loss.
First, Fleury is not the only reason we lost. The turnovers were atrocious. He hardly got any support. On certain goals he was screened and on others the shot was redirected. So to all you hating on Fleury, that’s all you are: a hater; and you obviously didn’t watch anyone else on the ice because he didn’t get any help.
Second, and I think this one drives me even crazier, you can’t completely let Fleury off the hook for this one. Whenever people start hating on Fleury I see so many people come out in response and say it wasn’t his fault, put all the blame on the defense and turnovers, and insist that he’s still great. This is just ignorant. Yes, the defense was bad, but the third and sixth goals were on him. The third goal, the one that went off him and into the net, is goaltending 101. When the puck is behind the net like it was you hug the post. There shouldn’t be a gap there. But there was. And it resulted in a goal for the Isles. The sixth goal was a complete collapse. Missed pokecheck, glove off the ice, easy goal.
Point is, it’s playoff hockey. You need your goalie to step up; and he didn’t. Neither did the defense or players passing the puck through the neutral zone. So stop solely blaming Fleury, but stop making every little excuse for him. Look at the game objectively, and you’ll find it’s really helpful.
So the big question is who should start in game 5. As frustrating as it is Fleury should still start. However, I think Bylsma has let this situation get out of hand (for the second year in a row). In my opinion, Fleury should have been pulled after the fourth goal tonight. I know the fourth goal was redirected by Murray’s skate, but it still went in, and that’s a mentality thing for a goalie. He knew he shouldn’t have let the third one in and I was worried that once he let another one past him in the third, no matter how good or bad the goal, that he would mentally collapse. And by the looks of the sixth goal, he did. Would we have won that game had Vokoun come in? I don’t know. The fifth goal was off an awful turnover and it wasn’t Fleury’s fault, but who knows. I think Fleury should have been pulled so he can get his head straight for the next game. I also think that a goalie change can possibly change the way the team plays in front of him. Not that it should, but at that point we needed to try something. We could have put Vokoun in just to change something and see if it made a difference with the entire team’s play. What also bothers me about Vokoun not getting a chance in that third period is that, while Fleury is physically the better goalie, Vokoun has his head on straight. Except for the second Philly game of the season, he hasn’t been rattled in goal. Also, last year I feel like the fans and coaching staff didn’t have confidence in Johnson coming in as backup. Now with Vokoun I would feel comfortable if he had to come into the game.
Final thoughts: Fleury is the starting goalie; no question. HOWEVER, if a game starts to get out of hand you take him out while you’re still in it to see if the team adjusts.