Although I bleed Red,White,and Blue for my Rangers, the game of hockey always comes first. My dedication to the game and love for the sport continues to grow as I get older.But being a goaltender, I gain more and more respect for the warriors in the mask. Their helmets and equipment are not just an obsession but their own personal styles and techniques are an art with in the game. I equate it to going to your cities local museum and looking at the Knights from the middle ages on cloth horses. Maybe you walk further down the exhibit and see the Samurai from Japan with their Cuirass from the 8th century.To me it's the same as walking into the Hall Of Fame lobby seeing all the masks from the pasts,warriors pure and simple.
To the Fans in Pittsburgh you have your warrior, Marc Andre Fleury has arrived. Early this season it appeared that Fleury may have been back to the drawing board. Not good enough to take over and not bad enough to ignore,he went out with an injury and returned as the Six Million Dollar Man. I'm not sure if he got a set of Terminator Knees with Johnnie 5 skates but this kid is here. He is calm and steady and is among the elite. The funny thing is after this year # 29 may be the 6 million dollar man , because his agent is going to lump him into a Lundqvist bracket. You can tell when a goalie truly plays well. It's a feeling that hits you in the pit of your stomach. Like Broduer has done for years, it's the ability to suffocate the opposing team and opposing fans. As you watch the keeper stop shot after shot ,the puck finds him not the other way around. With the level of the game amped up to KimboSlice adrenaline,Fleury kicks away shots that only appear to be routine. Yu begin to pray not for goals but for breaks and the Wings would get a break to cut the Pens lead from 2-1 last night. When a goalie is at that level of play it's the only thing that can beat him. The key is how he will react to the bad break ,and Fleury came right back to stop a Wings charge and a 2 on 1. After watching the save I knew it was going to be one of those nights. It was going to be a game were Fleury would play his heart out and despite his efforts the Wings would prevail.Or it would be a game were the kid could steal the hood ornament off the motor city machine. The Goalie gods smiled on the Pens and rewarded the warrior for keeping his team alive, Pens win. The game reminded me of one of the most Celebrated in Rangers history. Game 6 at the Meadowlands, "The Messier Guarantee" all over again. Evidentially Sykora called the OT goal,and we all know of Messier's bold prediction.But had Mike Richter not stood on his head and held off the Devils attack,the Ranger would be looking at another cup less decade.
I wasn't sure if Fleury's play had been a byproduct of his teams defensive efforts. But after watching him fight through more and more traffic in each series,maybe his efforts are supporting the D. He could have folded in game one when the Rangers lead 3-0,but staying in the game his team rallied back to flip the momentum early. Vs Philly he managed to deal with Flyers forwards who love to attack the crease. Now vs. the Wings he has to deal with everything,plus the best point attack in the game. If the Pens don't come back lets not forget what Sid and Malkin didn't do,but look at what Fleury has already begun. Maybe Eklunds hints that the team may be looking to change personnel even when they skate on Finals ice, is Michael Therien's hunch to build around the kid, not Sid the kid.