The NHL trade deadline is less than a week away and all eyes will be on Chicago's Marc-Andre Fleury leading up to Monday.
The Blackhawks have two games left between now and then, and only one of them will be at the United Center (on Sunday, the night before the deadline). That means there's a chance Tuesday's game against the Boston Bruins was Fleury's last in Chicago, and if it is, what a way to go out.
Fleury turned aside 39 consecutive shots to open the game, 35 of which came in the first two periods, and finished with 46 saves on 48 shots for a save percentage of .958. A vintage Flower performance that left everyone speechless after the game despite the 2-1 overtime loss.
"He was outstanding," interim head coach Derek King said. "I don’t know what else to say about this guy. When he’s on like that, it’s fun to watch."
"We can't ask much more from Flower," echoed Brandon Hagel. "He's been terrific all year. He's won us probably half of our games. He's been the stud of this hockey team. Wish we could have gotten two points for him there. He definitely deserved it, as you guys all knew, the crowd was chanting his name."
"He's really been the backbone of our team when we do get wins," Seth Jones said. "Obviously it sucks he's playing that well and we can't get a win for him."
The appreciation for Fleury goes beyond just what he brings on the ice. It's hard to find a player that's more universally beloved than Fleury.
"He's probably the best teammate I've had my entire career playing hockey," Hagel said. "One of the nicest guys and he brings 100 percent whether it's in practice, whether it's in the game. That's why he's going to be a Hall of Famer.
"He's 110 percent in practices, plays rebounds that he probably doesn't have to play in practice because they're supposed to be one shot, but he's playing it. Staying out for the guys after if they want to work on things. Can't say much more about this guy. He's incredible."
Fleury is Chicago's biggest rental trade chip and the best goaltender on the market by a mile. That's why teams in desperate need of his services will certainly be blowing up GM Kyle Davidson's phone over the next few days, if they haven't already. (Looking at you, Toronto and Washington).
Fleury, however, holds all the cards as we inch closer to the deadline. Yes, he wants to win, but it has to be the right situation for him and his family.
If the end is nearing for Fleury in Chicago, it's unfortunate that the Blackhawks will have nothing to show for it as a team because he's been as advertised and more.
"If it happens, it happens," King said. "This is the business we’re in, right? For me, I’d love to have him as long as I’m around and keep him. When they get rid of me, they can get rid of him after that. Then he’s free to go.
"But no, I’d be very surprised if he is around, because he can make a team that much better. ... We’re going to miss him if he’s gone because he’s a solid, solid rock for our group of young players.
"And for any goalie coming up backing him up, that’s free goalie school right there. You don’t have to pay for that. That comes with it. We’ll see what happens. He’s special."