Saturday, November 7, 2015

Marc-André Fleury Team Canada Jersey Card

So, uh... who are the best goalies in the NHL, some 10-15 games in?

Mike Condon leads the league in goals-against average (1.57) and ranks in the top-10 in wins (6) and top-5 in save percentage (.940), so he's a candidate.

Henrik Lundqvist is tied with Jake Allen and Michal Neuvirth for the lead in save percentage (.945), is fourth for GAA (1.80) and has the second-most number of wins (7), while Allen's two shutouts leave him with a 1.71 GAA and Neuvirth leads the league in shutouts (3).

Jaroslav Halak (1.85, .928 and 2 shutouts), Carey Price (2.01, .936, 7 wins and 2 shutouts), Jimmy Howard (2.01, .934), Corey Crawford (6-4-1 and 2 shutouts on a team not expected to gel until Christmas) and Frederik Andersen (2.03, .935) are also having fine seasons, as expected.

But if one goalie played like an MVP, like a Hart winner this season, it's without Marc-André Fleury, who stands third in GAA (1.74), sixth in save percentage (.939) has the second-most shutouts (2) and a 7-5-0 record on a team that scores 2.21 goals per game. I'm not even sure the Pens win even one game this year without his stellar goaltending; he's this season's Price/Devan Dubnyk so far.

It's not something that was expected just a few years ago, after a second (or third) consecutive poor playoff showing, but with the help of a sports psychologist, he's been able to recover and has been a bright spot for Pittsburgh even in the postseason, and has been their saviour this year as well while Sidney Crosby takes his time getting in gear.

For a few seasons now, when asked who the best Canadian goalies were in the NHL, Price, Crawford and Roberto Luongo would be my go-to guys, but Flower's making it hard to bypass him now - and this year, he might even be The Guy who'd get the nod to start, because many a coach would want to ride the hot hand.

Which brings me to this card I got in a jersey card trade a little more than six months ago, from Upper Deck's 2014-15 Series 1 set (card #GJ-MF of the Game Jersey sub-set), showing him playing for Team Canada with an IIHF-game-worn two-colour jersey patch:
He played for Canada three times, winning consecutive World Juniors silver medals in 2003 and 2004 (earning Top Goalie honors the first time), as well as a gold medal as the back-up at the 2010 Olympics in an all-Quebecer trio with Luongo and Martin Brodeur.

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