The Minnesota Wild will be without starting goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury for Sunday’s contest versus the St. Louis Blues.
Fleury, a three-time Stanley Cup champion, has endured several rough on-ice moments this season, posting a disappointing .901 save percentage across 25 games. And the 38-year-old is well aware of his struggles, especially since he holds himself to a much higher standard.
But the 2021 Vezina Trophy winner is also dealing with a personal matter away from the rink. And because of that, he left the team following Saturday night’s 6-5 overtime loss to the Buffalo Sabres.
Fleury is flying home to Montreal and is expected to rejoin the team in New York on Tuesday ahead of its matchup against the Rangers.
Never seen a goalie beat himself up like Fleury. He’s slamming things, apologizing to teammates, cursing, saying 5 goals should be a win every time
I can tell you, MAF has been dealing with a deep personal matter the last week and is leaving #mnwild tonight til Tuesday
— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) January 8, 2023
Without Fleury, the Wild will turn to either Filip Gustavsson — who has recently battled a stomach bug — or Zane McIntyre against the Blues. If McIntyre receives the nod, it would be his first NHL start in nearly six years.
Fleury endured yet another gruelling performance Saturday night against the Buffalo Sabres, allowing six goals on 37 shots. But the final score likely could’ve been much worse due to several breakdowns from Minnesota’s defence.
Fleury didn’t see it that way, instead focusing on the stops he didn’t make. And the veteran netminder didn’t hide his frustrations post-game, according to The Athletic’s Michael Russo, spiking his gear into his equipment bag and repeatedly muttering to himself in French.
"Score five … should be a win every time. I feel bad for the boys,” Fleury said after the game.
His teammates were quick to defend him, pointing the finger at themselves and not their goalie.
“Some of the best players are hard on themselves, but he has nothing to be mad about," Ryan Hartman said. "Really nothing. Everything they had were given to them by plays by us. We turned the puck over, we took penalties, we screened him, we didn’t take care of the front of our net, just gave up heavy shots over and over. Just self-inflicted by us, not Flower.”
It wasn’t all terrible for Fleury, though, as he logged his 964th career game, improving to fifth all-time in that regard. He needs eight more appearances to surpass Terry Sawchuk for fourth on that list.
Now in sole possession of fifth-most career game appearances by a NHL goaltender, Marc-Andre Fleury (964 GP) needs seven game appearances to tie Terry Sawchuk (971 GP) for fourth on the list. https://t.co/YTHsERo9sW
— Minnesota Wild PR (@mnwildPR) January 8, 2023
Despite earning just one point Saturday, the Wild have recovered from their miserable start to the campaign, sitting third in the Central Division at 22-13-3 with 47 points. They’ve been particularly effective recently, winning seven of their previous 10 games.
Fleury, acquired in a midseason trade from the Chicago Blackhawks in 2021-22, re-signed with Minnesota last summer, agreeing to a two-year, $7-million contract. His deal includes a $3.5 million cap hit per season and a full no-move clause.
The Sorel, Que., native has struggled to deliver on his high expectations thus far, registering a 2.94 goals-against average (his highest since 2016-17) and minus-0.4 goals saved above expected this season.
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