[I’ll bet you thought this was going to be about Paul Martin, didn’t you?]

It would be totally off base to blame Marc-Andre Fleury for the Pens’ current predicament. This team’s problems are many and huge. But while Fleury hasn’t been the only problem, he certainly hasn’t been part of the solution, either.

Ryan Lambert over at Puck Daddy has an interesting column today in which he states that we perceive Fleury as a clutch goalie because he was tremendous in the Pens’ first run to the Final. Since then, not so much.

His stats in the playoffs since the Cup year bear that out. His Goals against average is a sub-pedestrian 2.56. His save percentage is a horrendous .880. Does anyone, including the most ardent Fleury apologist, think numbers like those will win you a Cup? I didn’t think so. Lambert also points out that he has allowed three or more goals in a stunning 15 of 23 playoff games.

One could argue, and maybe even correctly, that the GAA and save percentage in the first two of these years were colored slightly by the inevitable “blow-up” game he seemed to have. But the third stat kind of belies that. It does not speak well of either Fleury or the team’s defense that they have this many poor results.

And this year, Fleury has been downright putrid. The opening picture says pretty much all you need to know about his mental state right now. He’s allowed a couple goals each of the past two games that have no business going in the net. That first goal yesterday just obliterated any slight whiff of confidence they got by scoring first yet again. His awfulness and the defense’s ineptitude seem to feed on each other. In fact, as Michel Therrien might say, “I think their goal is to be the worst defense in the National league, and they’re doing such a good job at their goal.”

But this is about Fleury. It’s time to dispel the notion that he is a franchise goalie. He’s a great guy, and a very good regular season goalie. But clutch he is not.

Oh, and Paul martin’s $5M has gotten them even less.