When the Blackhawks acquired Marc-André Fleury in the summer, there was talk about how they were “winning” the offseason and how the addition of Fleury, along with the addition of Seth Jones, was going to put Chicago over the hump and into postseason contention. Through the first 12 games of the season, it was not the case. At 1-9-2, the Blackhawks fired Jeremy Colliton, and Marc-André Fleury was playing the worst hockey of his career. Colliton was fired, and there was speculation what Fleury would do. Retire? Ask for a trade? Either option would have put an end to the misery for Fleury in Chicago.
But since the coaching change on November 6th, the Blackhawks, and Fleury, are playing much better and have earned 10 of their last 12 possible points in the standings. We talked earlier this month about the goaltending in Chicago leading the team back from the cellar of the NHL, but since Derek King took over in the interim, it’s Fleury who has rebounded the most.
Chicago is 5-1-0 since November 7, with Fleury accounting for four of those five wins. He’s won his last four starts in a row and has improved his record to 5-7-0, and his save percentage this season to much more respectable .911 after having a sub-.900 for most of the season.
BY THE POWER OF FLOWER pic.twitter.com/sXpZbFpIwT
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) November 18, 2021
After recording the first shutout of his Blackhawks career last night, stopping all 40 shots against the Vancouver Canucks, Fleury has now saved 135 of his previous 140 shots faced over his last four starts. He’s back. Over the past two weeks, Fleury has once again claimed a spot at the top of the NHL goalie food chain.
Marc-André Fleury ranks among 47 goalies to play at least 120 minutes since November 7, according to Natural StatTrick:
• All Strength Shots Faced/Game – 34.3 (37th)
• All Strength Save% – .964 (4th)
• All Strength High-Danger Save% – .925 (5th)
• All Strength Goals Saved Above Average per 60 – 1.74 (3rd)
• 5v5 Save% – .981 (t-2nd)
• 5v5 High-Danger Save% – .935 (2nd)
• 5v5 Goals Saved Above Average per 60 – 1.99 (1st)
The Blackhawks could have very well lost their game against the Canucks on Sunday night 3-0 or 4-0 had it not been for Fleury’s performance (and some goalpost help, too). Vancouver had a 3.73 Expected Goals-For in the game, but Fleury recorded a shutout. Over his past four games, Fleury is saving the Blackhawks nearly two goals per game above a league-average goaltender. But luckily for Chicago, Fleury is performing well above a league-average goaltender. He is once again performing like a Vezina-caliber net-minder.
What that means for the Blackhawks could be a potential rise in the standings back towards postseason contention. Yes, it is still early in the season, and it’s a small sample size of games. Still, if the past four starts for Fleury are any indication, Chicago could get back on track and begin to fulfill their preseason expectations of contending for a spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs.