PITTSBURGH -- Marc-Andre Fleury's 2008-09 campaign ended with him making the final save of the NHL season to help his Pittsburgh Penguins capture the Stanley Cup.
That is part of what made the end of this year even more startling for him. Fleury was pulled in a Game 7 loss to the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. One year after winning 16 games en route to a Cup, Fleury came up nine short this time around.
"I still think about the game and how it turned out. I wish we could still be playing and still be going for another series," Fleury said two days later.
His save percentage dipped from .912 to .905 in the regular season, and was down to .891 in the playoffs. Still only 25 and with two trips to the Cup Final on his resume, the Penguins will need more consistency from Fleury next season if they are to return to the championship round.
"Marc-Andre Fleury didn't have a strong season and he didn't have a strong postseason," Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said. "He's well aware of that situation and the criticism that comes with those things, like being the guy who stopped the pucks for us when we won the Stanley Cup and being the No. 1 goalie of a great team. Yeah, he's going to face some criticism."
Fleury answered questions from reporters on Friday while the Penguins were cleaning out their lockers at Mellon Arena.
Q: Everyone will remember that last game, but is there anything that you can pinpoint that went wrong with the series as a whole?
Fleury: I think they (the Canadiens) played well. First, you have to give them some credit. They played very well defensively. They didn't give us much. They had guys who were able to score some goals. They had some talented offensive guys. I don't know -- I still think we played good. We had a lot of shots. We did some good things. It didn't end up the right way.
Q: Is it still kind of hard to believe you are where you are? It has been a long time since you guys lost a series.
Fleury: It is weird to be done right now. You kind of get used to making it to the end and winning. It is tough to take.
Q: Is it weird being in this room for maybe the last time?
Fleury: I've played here six years now, and it is all I know from Pittsburgh. It will be weird a little bit to move out. There is so much great history here, and we won our Stanley Cup here. It will be a little bit weird, but I guess it is front of us.
Q: What will you do with this free time?
Fleury: Probably go on a vacation for a while. I don't really feel like going back to Montreal and seeing their fans. I will get away somewhere.
Q: Are there a lot of guys in here who need a full summer and offseason to refresh and recover?
Fleury: It is going to help everybody out. We can start working out and resting and healing the injuries. At the same time, when you think about it, everybody in the room would still rather be playing instead of going home to rest.
Q: There are a lot of free agents and a lot of them are defensemen -- do you have any advice for (general manager Ray Shero)? Would you like to see them all come back?
Fleury: Definitely -- I love all those guys. I think we have a very close group of guys. I think Ray has been doing his job very well since he's been here. I don't have any tips for him. He will be fine.