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Fleury sees room for improvement

Tuesday, 05.12.2009 / 3:50 PM / Conference Semifinals: Washington vs. Pittsburgh

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

CANONSBURG, Pa. -- Marc-Andre Fleury has been OK in these Stanley Cup Playoffs, but his play has paled in comparison to the goalie at the other end of the ice.

Much of the attention -- and rightfully so -- has been paid to Capitals rookie Simeon Varlamov, who has been a revelation after playing just six NHL games prior to the postseason.

Fleury hasn't been sensational, but he's been far from bad. Through 12 games, he has a 2.78 goals-against average and .901 save percentage. Varlamov, however, is fifth in the postseason with a 2.28 GAA and .925 save percentage.

"It's tough to say," was Fleury's response when asked to rate his play during the series. "The goals, there were more than I liked to go in. But I watched tape with (goalie coach) Gilles (Meloche), and there were some bounces they got, some nice goals they got, but definitely I would like to make more saves."

Meloche said he has no complaints with how Fleury has played.

"We review every goal, and last night the only one he might have had a chance with was the first goal, where the guy (Viktor Kozlov) picked the top corner under the crossbar," Meloche said.

He said the other goals Fleury had no chance on. His teammates bumped him out of position on two, and a third came when Brooks Laich got right in front of Fleury and tipped Alexander Semin's shot.

"He saw it leave the stick and he was expecting it in his belly," Meloche said, "but it never got to him."

Fleury was asked if he'd like a second chance on any of the pucks that got past him in Game 6, and he said, "All of them. I hate to give up goals, I hate to lose games. Doesn't matter which one."

Meloche said one of the things he's worked on with Fleury is keeping him focused while seeing so few shots. The Penguins have 66 more shots than the Capitals in the series, leaving a lot of time for Fleury to sit and watch. Most goalies like seeing a lot of pucks, and Fleury is no different.

"He doesn't get too many shots, but every time it's a quality shot -- they don't waste a lot of shots on net," Meloche said. "Goalies like that; it's a lot tougher to keep your concentration in games like this. … Even though he didn't get that many saves, he made saves at the right time, won some games. That's the way we're going to be playing again (Wednesday). Just go out and play the same way. We'll outshoot them again. I think his concentration is at the top right now and I'm not worried about it."

Fleury said he's watched Varlamov play so well at the other end, but he said he can't concern himself with how the other goalie is playing.

"I don't worry too much about what he does," Fleury said. "I don't have to shoot on him. I have to worry about the players that I have to face, just focus on them."

Fleury has played in a Game 7 before, defeating Bridgeport in an American Hockey League playoff game. While the minor leagues are far from a Stanley Cup Playoffs game, Fleury said he isn't going to treat it any differently than any other game.
 
"I think it's like every other game -- if the goalie plays well you have a shot to win the game," he said. "Just try to do my best, make some saves and hopefully we'll get the win."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com


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