Blackhawks notebook: Marc-Andre Fleury’s stellar January keeps getting better

Fleury is 4-0-1 with a .956 save percentage in his last five starts, including a heroic effort in the Hawks’ 3-2 shootout loss Monday.

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Marc-Andre Fleury made 35 saves even as the Blackhawks lost Monday.

AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

SEATTLE — Coming off a perfect 3-0-0 week with a .957 save percentage, Marc-Andre Fleury on Monday morning was named the NHL’s second star of the week.

The veteran goalie then delivered arguably his most heroic performance yet this month on Monday afternoon in the Blackhawks’ 3-2 shootout loss to the Kraken.

“It was probably a good thing ‘Flower’ was on his game because he got us a point [today],” interim coach Derek King said.

With the worn-out Hawks inundated in their own zone throughout the first and third periods, then again in overtime, Fleury almost singlehandedly carried the team through 65 minutes of play. 

He twice robbed Kraken leading scorer Jared McCann in crucial third-period moments, first on a backdoor play on the power play — Jake McCabe would later describe it as “one of the saves of the year” — and later on the first penalty shot in the Kraken’s history.

“I was just sitting on the bench, watched the replay, and I was like, ‘What is he doing out there?’ ” Dominik Kubalik said. “It’s unbelievable. I’m not saying I was expecting [some shots were] already going in, but somehow he always made a save. For sure, he gave us the point.”

Although his shutout streak of over 119 minutes — dating to Thursday against the Canadiens — was snapped late in the second period, he finished with 35 saves on 37 shots. 

That was in spite of the fact he’s still “winded” by his COVID-19 infection two weeks ago, King said, and not feeling 100% healthy.

In January, Fleury is 4-1-2 with a .927 save percentage. His plus-3.8 goals-saved-above-expected rate over that time ranks fifth in the league, and his .881 save percentage against high-danger shots is tied for sixth.

Kane supports Cat’s selection

Seeing Patrick Kane not only not selected but not even listed on the fan-vote ballot for the All-Star Game was jarring, even though the chosen Hawks — Alex DeBrincat is already in and Seth Jones is a ‘Last Men In’ candidate — make sense.

After all, Kane had basically become an annual All-Star before the pandemic hit, attending six games in a row from 2015 to 2020. But he doesn’t seem to mind his 2022 exclusion. He will get an extra weekend of rest out of it.

“[DeBrincat is] the guy who was most deserving on our team, and he’s been our best player this year, so it’s fitting he’s going,” Kane said.

DeBrincat, meanwhile, said he was excited for his first career appearance — while acknowledging the Hawks “have a couple of guys who probably could’ve went.” And the trip to Las Vegas will outweigh a few days of rest.

 “I’m a young guy,” he said. “I can take the weekend to go have some fun. I don’t think there’s any chance I’ll say no. It’s an honor, and I can rest on an off day or something.”

Reichel’s smooth transition

After his expected re-assign-ment Sunday, Lukas Reichel readjusted to the AHL seamlessly Monday, recording a goal and an assist in the Rockford IceHogs’ 5-3 loss to the first-place Wolves.

“It’s just [about] the reps, the ice time, the practice time,” King said, explaining the benefit of Reichel spending most of his time in the minors. “We do a lot of development stuff down there, whether it’s edge work [or] puck skills.”

Henrik Borgstrom took over Reichel’s first-line center spot Monday between Kane and Brandon Hagel, and Mike Hardman slid into the lineup in Borgstrom’s place.

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