The goalie that Pittsburgh didn�t want might end up winning the Conn Smythe Trophy, given to the most valuable player in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Marc-Andre Fluery, who was picked up by Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft last year, is set to guide his team to the championship.
Fleury is the overwhelming -135 choice to win the award. Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin is next at +200. Washington�s goalie Braden Holtby is the third pick at +550.
Golden Knights Coach Gerard Gallant told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that his goalie has been one of the most important pieces to the team�s success.
�He�s been so consistent with us all year long,� Gallant said. �He comes in here every day and he�s smiling, having fun. He�s enjoying the crowd at the practices. You always see him, he�s the first guy signing autographs all the time. He�s just a true pro, and he�s great for our organization.�
Fleury�s run to the Stanley Cup Finals has been one of the best in the modern era by a net minder. �Flower� as he is called, had a .947 save percentage through three series. That mark is the best in NHL history for goalies with at least 15 playoff games played. In that time he has compiled an 11-3 record, a 1.77 goals against average, and posted three shutouts.
The 33 year old is having one of his best runs in the postseason, which includes three Stanley Cup Trophies. Fleury, though, will not take any of the credit for his team�s phenomenal postseason.
�Obviously, we�re winning and it�s been a great run,� Fluery said. �I just try to stay loose, keep the guys loose and focus on my job.�
Others are quick to point to him as the reason they are in the Stanley Cup Finals.
�He played unbelievable,� Knights forward James Neal said. �His smile describes him best. You look in his mask and see all his teeth, that ear-to-ear smile.�
The Washington left winger has endured heartbreak after heartbreak in the postseason, some of it at the hands of Fleury. At 32 some were wondering if he still had the ability to lead his team deep into the playoffs.
Washington coach Barry Trotz was not one of them. He knew the Russian star still had a lot to prove.
�There were a lot of people doubting that he still had what it took,� Trotz said. �The great players take exception to that. A lot of things were said at the end of last year in the press, Twitter, whatever � the social medias and all that. And they�re hurtful, and I think he took it personally. He said, �I�m going to show you I�m still a great player.� And he did.�
The Capitals captain pushed aside the mounting criticism and the threat of getting bounced from the opening round of the playoffs and willed the squad to the finals. In three series he has 12 goals and 10 assists and many believe he could win the Conn Smythe even if Washington fails to capture the Cup.
But Trotz told USA Today that he believes his star player is on a mission to bring the hardware back to D.C.
�He�s very, very comfortable on this stage,� Trotz said. �He�s very comfortable on what he�s doing. He�s comfortable within our group.�