After Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury arrived at CONSOL Energy Center on Wednesday prior to practice, he was pulled aside by general manager Jim Rutherford.
The Pens GM delivered the news that Fleury had been added to the 2015 NHL All-Star Team.
“It was good news to start the day,” said Fleury, who will be joined by teammates Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Fleury, 30, will be playing in his second career All-Star Game. He participated in the 2011 All-Star Game in Carolina.
“I’m pretty pumped,” said the Stanley Cup-winning netminder. “It’s always an honor when you get a chance to play with all these guys. I’m looking forward to it.”
Fleury, who signed a four-year contract extension with the Penguins this season, holds the franchise records for wins (310) and shutouts (34). He is in the midst of one of the finest seasons of his career. Fleury has already posted a career-best and NHL-leading six shutouts. He ranks fourth in league with 22 wins, sixth with a 2.16 goals-against average and seventh with a .926 save percentage.
“A lot of things,” Fleury said when asked why he’s having such an impressive year. “My teammates have been playing great in front of me. The system has helped a little bit, too. Getting older, more experienced, more calm. Season’s been going all right.”
One area that has helped Fleury, Pittsburgh’s first-overall pick in the 2003 NHL Draft, is the Pens’ new system under head coach Mike Johnston. The Pens collapse more in the defensive zone and that has cut down on second and third opportunities for opponents.
“There are more of our guys around our net. It’s been helping,” Fleury said. “On loose pucks it seems we always have somebody around and we’re not giving them as much time to get a scoring chance.”
Fleury wasn’t initially named to the All-Star team, but injuries to goaltenders Jimmy Howard of Detroit and Pekka Rinne of Nashville created an opening. And Fleury is happy to fill it.
“It’s an honor to go there,” Fleury said. “I was disappointed at first (not being named to the team). I feel bad for Jimmy Howard. You don’t want to see a guy going down hurt. But I’m happy I get a chance to go.”