Penguins should punt Fleury

Despite past success, present struggles argue Pens need new netminder

Updated: May 22, 2013, 9:58 PM ET
By Neil Greenberg | ESPN Insider

FleuryJustin K. Aller/Getty ImagesMarc-Andre Fleury has struggled in the playoffs since winning the Cup.

Drafting a goalie in the first round is a gamble, but the Pittsburgh Penguins and then-general manager Craig Patrick felt it was worth the risk, trading up to make 18-year-old Marc-Andre Fleury the No. 1 overall selection in the 2003 entry draft.

Four years later the gamble began to pay off, with Fleury winning 19 of 35 games and posting a .921 save percentage in the regular season. The Quebec native also played a pivotal role for Pittsburgh in its run to the 2008 Stanley Cup finals, where he stopped 569 of the 610 shots (.932) he faced until inadvertently deflecting a Henrik Zetterberg attempt across his own goal line, giving the Detroit Red Wings their 11th Stanley Cup championship.

The following season Fleury redeemed himself by making a miraculous, diving save across the crease to deny four-time champion Nicklas Lidstrom of the Red Wings with two seconds left, giving Pittsburgh the first win by the away team in a Game 7 final since 1971 and its first Stanley Cup since 1992.

But you can milk a Stanley Cup victory for only so long. Since then, Fleury's struggles have begun to mount -- particularly in the postseason -- and it is past time for the Penguins to relieve Fleury of his starting responsibilities and possibly his place in the Pittsburgh organization.

Neil Greenberg is ESPN Insider's NHL analytics expert. His columns have appeared on the Washington Post website, and he is a regular guest on Sirius XM NHL Radio.