Price or Fleury?

I know most of you will say they’d take Carey Price over Marc-Andre Fleury in a heartbeat for the duration of their careers. Heck, I might be convinced to agree with you given Price’s potential.
My question is: Who is currently better? A 20-year-old Price or a 23-year-old Fleury?
and: Who would you rather start in the playoffs: A goalie who couldn’t handle the pressure in the 2004 WJHC as some claim, but was only the third goalie in NHL draft history to be chosen first overall and the second youngest goalie in NHL history to get 40 wins (Terry Sawchuk being the youngest), or a young goalie with no NHL playoff experience but who was chosen 5th overall and who has dominated in the AHL playoffs?

Before you decide, please arm yourself with some knowledge about how these two goaltenders have played of late. [Also, an offer of reconciliation with Habs fans.]

Fleury vs. Price (for this year, not the future)
The Pens and Habs are very similar teams. The Habs have more Goals For (but not by much), the Pens less Goals Against (but not by much). Both are in the Top 2 in the East for having scored more goals than they have let in, with the Habs currently leading by 6. I don’t think these 6 goals affect a goalie’s stats so much to be taken into serious consideration. If anything, it gives Price the slightest edge. Because it probably doesn’t (and a lot more calculations would be required, i.e. the specific games each have played in), let’s look at their stats at face value:

MAF: 30GP 16W 9L 1O
Price
: 37GP 20W 12L 3O

Could Fleury have gone (and go) 4-3-2 to tie Price (if not injured)? I’d say easily and better. But that’s speculation. So let’s stick with facts.

MAF: 16th (now surpassing Conklin) in the NHL with 2.50GAA. Also, 4th in the East.
Price
: 29th (14 spots behind Huet) in the NHL with 2.71GAA. Also, 11th in the East.

Fleury has also been playing some kind of monstrous hockey in his past 15 games, dating back prior to his injury. The team has been 13-2-0 in that span, with Fleury personally recording an 11-1 record during that span… Seriously! After enduring a terrible start from his team, Fleury and the Penguins have rebounded in a serious way. Even despite that atrocious start (going 8-11-2 in their first 21 until they turned their season around), Fleury is well above Price in this category of GAA. Price, for his part, has gone 11-4 in his last 15, nearly as amazing.

MAF: 13th in the NHL with 0.916SV%. Also, 7th in the East.
Price: 15th in the NHL with 0.915SV%. Also, 8th in the East.

Even-steven, given the success of both their teams. We cannot argue one way or the other, that is unless we want to listen to all the naysayers who say the Penguins have horrible defense (despite the blatant facts/stats that prove otherwise). If that is in fact the case as these people claim, then Fleury’s stats look all the more impressive… don’t they? (You logically can’t have it both ways!)

MAF: 4 shutouts in 30 GPs
Price: 2 shutouts in 37 GPs

MAF has single-handedly stolen 4 games, while Price has just twice in more games played.

*This next and final stat isn’t really valid because of Fleury’s limited outings and its irrelevance in the playoffs, but it’s the only other one of note from ESPN, and both goalies are phenomenal this year at it.

MAF: 3 for 3 in the shootouts. 100%
Price: 18 for 22 in the shootouts. 81.8% (Amazing, btw)

Fleury is first in the NHL (tied with Mike Smith, 6 for 6) and alone in first for the East.
Price is 4th in the NHL (Garon at 30 for 32 has a phenomenal 93.8 SV% and is one of the leading causes for Edmonton even having a shot at making the playoffs) and 2nd in the East.

Total Kudos to Price here. Shows maturity and confidence beyond his years.

From these numbers, what can we conclude about who is this year’s better goaltender? Be honest.

Next, take into consideration Fleury played a lot during the Penguins horrible start. Whereas Price played a scant few games early in the season, and has played during the time when the Habs have been amazing. Also, compare Price to Huet. Huet wins in every statistical way (except Shootout SV%). On a final note, notice that when Fleury plays in the game (for whatever amount of time), dating back before his injury, the team has 13 wins in 15 games, with Fleury 11-1… since a 5 game losing streak by the Habs when Price was in net (playing 55+ minutes in each game) from December 18th to February 9th, the Habs have gone 12-4 while Price has gone 11-4.

Who has been the better goalie during the last 15-20 games? If you really want, I could go into the SV% and GAA for each goalie during that span, but you all know the results would heavily favor Fleury.

From all of this, what can we conclude about who is this year’s better goaltender?

The question is who you would rather have going into this year’s playoffs. If the question is one of potential and straight up whom you would rather have, I know most of you, and I myself may be included, would pick Price in the long-term given how well he has performed at such a young age. But to his advantage, he had the benefit of starting his career on a phenomenal team, while Fleury was plunged into the worst team in the NHL. May that have broken Fleury’s spirits and harmed his development? Who knows. But I think his 40-win season last year shows he has overcome a lot since his NHL start and his 2004 WJHC ‘blunder’. [A quick aside: Many, including Wikipedia, claim Fleury has merely been a scapegoat for Team Canada’s failure that year. No, I wasn’t the one who wrote that on wiki! Let’s not forget that Team Canada blew a 3-1 lead going into the 3rd period, and as a team couldn’t win, while Fleury let in only 5 goals in 5 games in the tournament prior to the Gold Medal Game.]

Back to the question of this year’s playoffs, I know most of you will still pick Price, especially all Habs fans. That’s fine. I did this in an effort to show you that Fleury is indeed an amazing goalie. He hasn’t won 13 of his last 15 games (or 11 of 12 depending how you want to calculate it) by pure chance. One could argue that the Pens are such a strong team that they make even a goalie like Ty Conklin look like an All-Star, but then I would counter with the exact same argument for Huet before his trade and Price now. Is that reasonable?

Many of you will also counter, wisely, that the playoffs are a different matter entirely. I agree. But, since we have no stats for Price in the NHL, and Fleury has limited experience (albeit some) against a vastly superior Eastern Conference winning Senators team who shell-shocked the green Penguins, regular season stats are all we have to go on. If you want to criticize Fleury for that 2004 mistake, then I can ask where Price was during his 4 years in the W
HL, where his team (with him in net) won only one playoff round, and where Price was below .500 in his first 3 consecutive seasons. [Yes, yes. The Tri-City Americans were a bad team, so then I guess the arguments about Fleury being terrible on the worst NHL team in Pittsburgh are still valid… right? NOTE THE SARCASM!] Yes, Price was amazing with a solid ‘baby Habs’ team (the Hamilton Bulldogs) in the AHL playoffs, but so was Antero Niittymaki with the Philadelphia Phantoms when they won their Calder Cup. He even won the Jack Butterfield Trophy (Calder Cup playoffs MVP) in 2005, just like Price did last year. Oh, and did I mention that at the 2006 Winter Olympics, while playing for team Finland, Niittymaki was voted the MVP of the entire ice hockey tournament!?!? But how has he fared on the Flyers in the totally different NHL, and especially in the playoffs? Well, that’s another story.

Some may want to make the argument that the Habs are looking a lot like last year’s Pens (what with sweeping 8 games from Boston, like the Pens did from Philly) who faced a quick exit due to their vast inexperience. I know Habs fans don’t want to think down those lines… for their sake, a Top 2 finish will likely see them face the Bruins or Flyers, two teams they would definitely beat in the first round. This could get their ball rolling, or they could find themselves up against a lot more than they could handle, and a performance like Price and the Habs had against the Sens in the 3rd period of that 7-5 victory could go a long way to shell-shocking the young Habs and their even younger starting goaltender. But, just as the Pens are trying to do this year, the Habs may bounce back next year to win the Cup in their ‘fated’ year.

All-in-all, I hope this doesn’t jinx Fleury and the Pens, as my articles and posts have frequently been followed with bad luck for the Pens (Crosby, Fleury, Hossa, Malkin, Conklin, Scuderi have all gone down with injuries or slumps, with only Gonchar an exception, knock-on-wood). Thus, I officially knock-on-wood to prevent any disasters befalling Fleury or the Penguins.

On a penultimate note, there’s been a lot of antagonism these days between Habs and Pens fans. It’s really quite ridiculous. There’s little logic in bashing each other’s team given our successes. I think a lot of this is apprehension or even doubt that stems from feelings of angst and dread over what the playoffs have in store for us. Neither team wants to be a no-show or underachieve. Both teams want to at least win a couple rounds and not have to consider their glorious season a failure due to an early exit. We are all proud fans and want our team to do the best. Securing first place in the Conference and home-ice until the Finals would go a long way towards soothing any distress, and it’s for this reason that I think we’ve all become ego-maniacal about the greatness of our team and the weakness of the ‘enemy’. All things told, we are the only two teams that have, to date, clinched a playoff spot in the East. That’s very commendable and we should both we quite pleased with this accomplishment, especially as both our teams have overcome a lot of adversity (though in completely different ways). Personally, I’ve always loved the Habs and if the Pens have the misfortune of failing to win the East, or have an early exit, I’ll be cheering for the Habs if they remain. I don’t care if this feeling is reciprocal, it won’t affect my opinion either way. But let’s face the truth, our teams will likely finish Top 2 in the East, and have to play 2 difficult, grueling playoff series’ (well maybe not if Montreal draws Boston) if we are to face each other at all, which would be in the Conference Finals. If that were to happen, I truly believe and have said so on numerous occasions as far back as mid-season that it would be a series for the ages. At that point, I’d say let the best team win and wish good luck to the victor in bringing the Cup back to the East.

To return to where it all began:

Who has had the better season? Marc-Andre or Carey?
Who is hotter right now?
Who is currently better?
Who would you rather start in the playoffs? A 20-year-old inexperienced Price or a 23-year-old Fleury with personal demons to overcome and a hell of a lot to prove?


131 Responses to Price or Fleury?

  1. BruMagnus says:

    I've gotta say that Price looked pretty shaky in the win against the Sabres.

    The 1st goal was a brutal rebound (that got kicked into his net by his own unaware teammate) and the 2nd and 3rd goals were basic shots that he couldn't even handle. If it weren't for the Habs OFFENSE (not defense or goaltending that supposedly wins Cup), the Habs would have lost, and deservingly so.

    But I can guarantee you that the Pens and Fleury and their superior defense to Buffalo would not have given up those late goals…

  2. CanadianbornPlaya says:

    Luc Robitaille was drafted by the Kings in the ninth round. 171 overall. Tom Glavine was picked ahead of him in the fourth. St. Louis wasn't drafted at all. I think i remember hearing that the oldest Sutter brother was the best player of them all and I don't tink he ever played a game in the league.

  3. CanadianbornPlaya says:

    The Hawks have stunk it up for a while now. They will be good down the road though. Long time comming

  4. kamullia says:

    Not a threat at all. It was what it was, a “you know better.” You do not threaten your kids if you say that to them, do you? You are not my kid, but it was meant in that same general sense, hence no the site is not getting to me.

    You need to re-read what I typed. My statement did not say Malone did not have grit. It said he was not full of it. That means he has done things as you point out (e.g. being a punching bag) but in general he is nowhere near a high level of grit. It would be like saying that Hossa goes and stands up for Crosby 4 or 5 times in a year because he was the closest to the incident and that means he is full of grit because of it. Hardly. Standing up for a teammate is part of it, but grit is much more than that…at least in my book.

  5. leafy says:

    Here's a list of some undrafted players.  Some true greats are in there.

    Adam Oates
    Dino Ciccarelli
    Peter Stastny
    Ed Belfour
    Curtis Joseph
    Guy Lapointe
    Borje Salming
    Anders Hedberg
    Dan Boyle
    Brian Rafalski
    Ruslan Fedotenko
    Martin St. Louis
    Jason Blake
    Sean Avery
    Ty Conklin
    John Madden
    Geoff Courtnall
    Wade Dubielewicz
    Jeff Halpern
    Glenn Healy
    Charlie Huddy
    Mike Johnson
    Sylvain Lefebvre
    Jamie Macoun
    Marty McSorley
    Mike Milbury
    Steve Thomas
    Walt Tkaczuk
    Garry Unger
    Dustin Penner
    Dave Poulin
    Mike Ridley
    Dwayne Roloson
    Mark Tinordi

    Wayne Gretzky (special case, via WHA)

  6. Plekanec says:

      After last night game Price average over 32 shots per game and after their last game MAF average barely above 25 shots on goal(one of NHL lowest).

      Of course A Goalie who gets almost 7 shots less than the next goalie will have a better save %. Conklin has a better save % than MAF , so does that mean he is better! The bottom line is As we speak Price is seen as one of NHL top 3 prospect and you are trying to tell me that a DUD like Fleury might be better? You need to snap out of it and smell the coffee!

      As for the quality of the shots, why is it that you get to decide who takes the more dangerous shots. If you had a clue or watch any of the habs game you will see that Price is miles ahead of Fleury.

      BTW you Can't actually compare the two since they are of different age and playing on different teams but what you can do is compare their Rookie season and even your bias ass will see that Price is that much more better.

    PS: Fleury choked at the world junior and in every postseason he has been in! Like someone previously said, it's not enough to be good in the Playoffs, you have to be great, Something "I" think MAF has never done and will never do! But I understand why your frustrated since you guys drafted that bum 1st overall Ahahahahaha! What a joke! The Penguins have better chances finding a starting goalie on the waivers list than drafting one themselves!

      Correct me if I'm wrong but when the Pens try to trade Fleury at the deadline, nobody wanted him not even the Sens or T-Bay! Afterword the Pens pretended they didn't want to trade him, scared of breaking the little bit of confidence he had left! But don't worry MAF will once again show how much of a choker he is in the playoffs!

  7. CanadianbornPlaya says:

    Toskala would be avaliable for the right price. He's very solid. Toronto will be looking for something major though. Expensive draft package or young skaters(Staal, Letang maybe Fleury going to Leafs).

     

  8. Habroller says:

    He received 38 shots.

    In my books, if you don't worsen your Save % in a game, you've played decent. And HE was decent yesterday; made a few mistakes but also was great behind his net and threw a couple of spectacular ones when we badly needed it.

  9. Habroller says:

    With the "hot" market on goalies right now, I wouldn't expect more than Goligoski and a mid-level pick for Toskala at this point. You should keep him anyway.

  10. Oil-Life says:

    Lol, don't worry about it.  It was a good question, I've asked a lot of people it once i read this.  you'd be suprised how many take MAF over Carey.

  11. LeafsNation91 says:

    Wow, for once I am not being ridiculed…

  12. habs_punk says:

    Very scary matchup for the Habs though, you never want to face a goalie you just traded in the playoffs.

  13. Rico420 says:

    I'd take Martin Brodeur.

  14. habs_punk says:

    You're obviously putting Montreal as the grit, and Pittsburgh as the superskill. Montreal is the best offensive team in the NHL, with 11 more goals than Pittsburgh… I guess maybe grit creates goals more than skill does?

  15. BruMagnus says:

    Totally agreed. Especially since Huet is playing better than Price, and on a marginal team no less!

  16. BruMagnus says:

    lol your arrogance/down-talking is outstanding  🙂
    teach me more mama

  17. BruMagnus says:

    I specifically wanted to avoid sleeper picks as it is irrelevant to the point being made, that being that the top 5 (and top 1/2) picks are almost always gold mines.

  18. BruMagnus says:

    If the results are that a lot would take MAF, then I wouldn't be surprised, given his play of late (13-1 in his last 14 starts)… seriously, how can anyone argue against that??

    If the results are that a heavy majority (of non-Habs fans) would take Price over MAF, then indeed I'd be surprised!

  19. BruMagnus says:

    You would?
    He's won 1 game in his past 6, having lost 5 straight!!

    Fleury has won 13 of his last 14….

  20. BruMagnus says:

    "Of course A Goalie who gets almost 7 shots less than the next goalie will have a better save %."

    I used to think so too, but other people convinced me I was wrong about this. Since the majority of shots are saved, the more shots on net, the more likely they are to be saved, thus adding to SV%. Goalies that have huge SV% often have 40-50 shot games where 1 or 2 goals go in. This totally boosts their stats.

    Anyways, your first sentence PROVES how much better of a defensive team the Penguins are than the Habs. We let a lot fewer shots get to the net, and most of those are low-scoring chances.

    You're bias. You don't watch Pens games. I can say the same about Fleury to your Price. And we both think we are right. So it's moot.

    You cannot compare their rookie seasons for reasons a million people have said before: Price comes onto the Top team (or one of the top) in the East and NHL, while Fleury comes onto the worst team in the entire NHL. Make some sense!

    hahaha, The Pens didn't try to trade Fleury, you moron!! Nor did they try to trade Staal. What you're thinking of is the opposite: The Pens got MULTIPLE calls to try to steal Fleury or Staal from the Pens, but all got shutdown. The Pens even rejected trading Turco for Fleury straight up!

    Fleury has won 13 of his last 14 starts… has Price?

    Fleury has won 13 of his lat 14 starts… has Price??

  21. BruMagnus says:

    You make a good point that you'd have played decently if you don't worsen your sv%… but decent doesn't win Cups or playoff rounds…

    and you yourself admitted Price is making mistakes (plural)… I'd be a little scared to go in with such a green guy. but it IS important to get him the experience.

  22. kamullia says:

    There is plenty that you can be taught by many people, but there is one thing there is little room for improvement for you: How to be a text book perfect jackass. Whenever you want, you are superb at it. 🙂

  23. mojo19 says:

    lol, bru, you'd take Brodeur in the clutch too, admit it.

  24. Habroller says:

    Anyone else thinks that Fleury has a bit of a "tête-à-claque"?

    Everytime I see his little grin, it makes me wanna slap his face, hopefully correcting a bit of his obnoxious ugliness.

    Don't get me wrong, I greatly appreciate ugly-looking hockey players (I. Laperrière, A. Kostitsyn, A. Ovechkin, and so many others). But for some reason, Fleury's face strikes me as actively demanding hand-correction!

  25. Oil-Life says:

    I thinks ot's just the first overall pick thing.  Nobody out here really follows Pittsburgh that much, or at least who's in net that is.

  26. BruMagnus says:

    Great job by Paul Devorski yet again today.

    Whitney gets tripped late in the game on a partial breakaway, then Malone gets tripped in the last 30 seconds, both no calls. Then the refs decide to call Gonchar for a penalty 30 seconds into OT (and it was a penalty). But that decided the game. Call those two penalties and were singing a different tune. Once again, the refs single-handedly decide the outcome of the game.

    On the upside, at least the Pens got a point out of this and are just 1 point away from their first Atlantic division title, and the first time since 1994 that the Flyers or Devils won't win it.

  27. BruMagnus says:

    Admitted!

  28. Radio says:

    Why is this article back on the top of the list, and still has an entry at the very bottom of the front page. >_>

  29. BruMagnus says:

    Thank you. I learned from the best: Hunter S. Thompson, RIP.

  30. BruMagnus says:

    Beats me, I'm as puzzled as you. Clearly no communication between the HTR staff or even checking their own site for what each Mod has posted…

  31. BruMagnus says:

    The hockey world agrees, it's Fleury right now! I can't wait to see how Habs fans spin this one!

    Penguins star Fleury takes NHL's second star of the month award

    Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin has been named the NHL's first star for the month of March.

    He was followed by Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and Detroit Red Wings forward Johan Franzen. Ovechkin led all scorers with 26 points (14-12) in 14 games as the Capitals went 10-4-0 in pursuit of a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.

    Entering play Tuesday, Ovechkin led the league in goals (62), points (109), power-play goals (21), game-winning goals (10) and shots (430).

    Fleury posted a 9-1-1 record with a 1.44 goals-against average, a .951 save percentage and two shutouts in 11 games for Pittsburgh.

    In 33 appearances this season, Fleury has posted a 18-9-2 record, 2.38 GAA, .920 save percentage and four shutouts…

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