It has been quite a season for Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
The 36-year-old has been the face and backbone of the Golden Knights franchise and a foundation of the team’s historic and record-shattering success since its inaugural season.
Even so, there was some uncertainty about his role with the team heading into this year, especially following the controversial goalie situation in last year’s playoff bubble.
But Fleury’s ability and character were never in question, and he has demonstrated once again that he is an elite goaltender in this league.
That’s why it’s not surprising that the Las Vegas chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association has selected him to be the Golden Knights’ 2021 Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy nominee. The Masterton Trophy is awarded to the player who best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
Fleury is coming off one of the most difficult seasons of his career, but his play in 2020-21 has been sensational.
He has gone 25-10-0 with five shutouts in 35 starts. He is third in wins this season despite playing fewer games than the two goalies ahead of him. His .927 save percentage is tied for third, as is his goals-against average (2.04); he’s also tied for third with five shutouts, the same number he recorded last year in 14 more games.
Fleury put the team on his back during Robin Lehner’s six-week absence due to a concussion, starting 17 of 18 games and winning 12 of them in that stretch.
With his 3-2 overtime win against Minnesota on May 5, Fleury claimed sole possession of third place on the all-time wins list with 490, moving past Roberto Luongo (489) in the process. He now trails only Martin Brodeur (691) and Patrick Roy (551) in the history books. Fleury currently sits at 491 wins spanning 17 seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Golden Knights; he has a chance to make it 492 if he starts tomorrow’s game in San Jose.
The Sorel, Quebec native was named last week’s third star of the week after going 2-0-0 with a 1.48 goals-against average and .939 save percentage in two wins, one of which enabled him to pass Luongo on the all-time wins list.
Those two victories were part of Fleury’s current eight-game winning streak.
Thanks in large part to his play this season, the Knights, at worst, will finish second in the overall NHL standings with at least 39 wins and 80 points (they could be the only team to hit 40 wins if they defeat San Jose tomorrow night). Vegas had a chance to clinch the West Division and the Presidents’ Trophy, but Robin Lehner and the Knights fell to Colorado by a final score of 2-1 Monday night at T-Mobile Arena.
Fleury continues to raise the bar.
His 2020-21 goals-against average (2.04) is the best of his career, and his save percentage (.927) is tied with his career-best number from 2017-18, his first season in Vegas.
How Vegas will employ its goaltenders in the playoffs remains uncertain, but one thing is for sure: Fleury has managed to record arguably the best statistical season of his career at age 36, all with a smile on his face.
Following last night’s 2-1 loss to Colorado, Vegas’ final home game of the regular season, the Golden Knights announced the recipients of this year’s team awards. Here is an overview of this year’s winners.
Seventh Player Award
2020-21 recipient: Alec Martinez
This award recognizes the player who most exceeded expectations on the ice. It is voted on by fans; the four nominees were Martinez, Nicolas Hague, Keegan Kolesar and Tomas Nosek. Past winners include William Karlsson, Ryan Reaves and Chandler Stephenson.
First Star Award
2020-21 recipient: Max Pacioretty
This honor is based on the three stars of the game voting following every home game. Karlsson, Fleury and Reilly Smith won this award in Vegas’ first three seasons, respectively.
Vegas Strong Service Award
2020-21 recipient: Shea Theodore
A recognition awarded to the “player most involved in serving and giving back to the Vegas community.” Former Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland took home this award in each of the first two seasons in franchise history. Pacioretty and Paul Stastny were co-recipients last season.