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Sheng’s Daily: Why I’d Start Marc-Andre Fleury Tonight

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Credit: Tyler Bischoff

“Kevin was a scrawny little kid.”

That’s how USA Hockey National Team Development Program associate coach Nick Fohr remembered a 15-year-old Kevin Labanc.

Yesterday at San Jose Hockey Now, Fohr shared his memories of coaching Labanc before the San Jose Sharks drafted the winger in 2014 — including a moving story of the first time a teenage Labanc met his Slovakian grandmother.

In other San Jose Sharks news…

What do you think of Alexander Georgiev to the Sharks? (Locked On Sharks)

UMass head coach Greg Carvel introduces us to John Leonard. (San Jose Barracuda)

Ex-San Jose Sharks players Scott Gomez and Jamal Mayers are also on the Player Inclusion Committee:

Around the NHL…

Per the NHL, Philadelphia became the eighth team in league history to stave off elimination in back-to-back games via an overtime victory in each contest. The last team? Oh, you know.

Wow, we’re in Jacques Plante record territory. Per Sportsnet, Thatcher Demko is the “first rookie goalie to win each his first 2 career playoff starts when his team was facing elimination since Jacques Plante in 1953.”

So who should Peter DeBoer start in Game Seven?

Some possibly relevant stats: Marc-Andre Fleury has gone 3-4 with a .915 Save % in Game Seven, Robin Lehner has never played a Game Seven. But perhaps more importantly, Lehner is a career 1-7-1 with a .889 Save % in the second game of back-to-back starts. Historically, of course, goalies are less effective in the second leg of back-to-back starts.

So I think DeBoer has to choose Fleury — if he believes Fleury is still a No. 1 caliber goalie. That’s been the party line and that’s Flower’s reputation. If you don’t believe that — and buy more into Fleury’s recent statistical decline — I’m fine with going Lehner.

But if you believe that you have two No. 1 goaltenders in Vegas than you got to go with the fresher Fleury in a back-to-back.

Even if Fleury wins Game Seven, I don’t think there’s much of a goalie controversy if you immediately declare Lehner as your Western Conference Finals Game One starter. Or at least inform Lehner of that, if you want to play coy. Just say the back-to-back circumstances dictated starting Fleury, which is plausible, but more importantly, sensible.

Ex-Montreal scout Scott Masters on Colorado’s Game Six and why he didn’t recommend Matt Duchene to the Canadiens. (Colorado Hockey Now)

Four affordable right-handed defensemen for the Penguins to watch. (Pittsburgh Hockey Now)

New Florida Panthers GM Bill Zito and Columbus beat writers Aaron Portzline and Brian Hedger join George Richards’s latest podcast. (Florida Hockey Now)

Zdeno Chara wants to keep playing for Boston. (Boston Hockey Now)

On New York’s double-overtime Game Six loss. (NYI Hockey Now)

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Nick H.

And what about the Canucks? Do they send their young goalie out for a back-to-back and expect the same magic?

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