Marc-Andre Fleury was his typical, smiling-after-a-win self. He deflected all praise to his teammates but said thank you when his play was complimented. On both the national TV broadcast and again by local media after the game, Fleury was asked about going head-to-head with Carey Price. Both times he gave the same response
“I don’t really think of it as me playing (against Price),” said Fleury. “I’m more worried about the shooters I face and stopping them.”
It’s natural for media on both sides to want more of an angle on this. Maybe some quotes to stoke a fire (which won’t come from either goalie I assure you). Especially considering that Marc-Andre Fleury is facing his provincial childhood team and the French-Canadian media do love a good local story, there will be even more of a spotlight on the two goalies.
Especially since Fleury speaks French. How odd is it that Price really doesn’t and the goaltender in the desert does?
No matter what he may say, the hockey world knows better. Both the Montreal Canadiens and Vegas Golden Knights have been carried this far by their goaltending and will continue to be so. The real difference is that the Golden Knights can occasionally dig their way out of a big hole with scoring spread across the lineup and a can-do attitude. The Canadiens are much better playing with the lead and have a harder time in desperation mode as we saw in Game One.
“They (Montreal) were impressive early,” said head coach Pete DeBoer after Game One. “Price is as advertised… (Fleury) has been playing at an elite level all year. When our team isn’t on or we’re stumbling a little bit trying to find our game, he has that ability to make those big saves and allow us to get some confidence and get our legs.”
DeBoer referenced how he thought Game Six against the Colorado Avalanche was much of the same, with Fleury holding the fort and making big saves until the Golden Knights got things in gear. Were it not for Fleury doing just that in the first period of Game One, it could have been a very different outcome.
That’s not to say Price didn’t make his share of acrobatic saves. In particular, the glove save on Mark Stone that had Stone making an incredulous face and Price delivering a well-timed wink at him stands out. Jonathan Marchessault is still searching the heavens for the answer on how Price got across so quickly with his right pad to rob him from the faceoff circle on a one-time attempt. Indeed, Price was spectacular for the Canadiens, but he doesn’t have as complete a team in front of him as Fleury does.
Marc-Andre Fleury is fortunate that his team is strong defensively in front of him. They collapse to the net when they need to. They dig pucks out of the crease. And of course, the VGK block shots like crazy. It all adds up to fewer goals against and is a major reason why the pitched battle between the Habs and Golden Knights is rolling Vegas’ way so far.
When the scene shifts after tonight’s Game Two to Montreal, it will be interesting to once again revisit the topic. Especially if Price manages to steal the game which he is capable of doing. Both goalies will provide plenty of highlight-reel fodder for the comparison that will continue for the duration of the series. Regardless of who wins tonight, the heat from the spotlight on both goaltenders is going to continue to intensify, and their names inextricably linked.