GAME 5 FALLOUT
In watching some of Game 5 again this morning, it became even more clear of what a difference maker Tomas Vokoun was in goal for the Penguins last night. Until the Penguins finally got one stretch pass through the Islanders 1-3-1 zone that broke Tyler Kennedy loose for a breakaway goal 7:25 into the second period, the Penguins were being outplayed and could have easily been down 1-0 or 2-0.
What Vokoun provided in goal for the Penguins last night was stability.
“Obviously 31 stops was big,” Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma of Vokoun’s performance. “In particular, the first period and early in second, he had a number of big stops. They had some good opportunities to score in the first, five good scoring chances and he was very good. The save he made on Tavares where he split through our D there, was huge, huge save and he was real solid down the stretch,” Bylsma said.
Vokoun will be in goal again in Game 6 and if the Penguins close out the series in Game 6 Saturday night or Game 7 Sunday night to advance for a second matchup against the No. 7 seeded Ottawa Senators, all eyes will be on who the Penguins turn to in goal for the start of the series.
There’s one group out there who feel the Penguins should and will go back to Marc Andre Fleury for the start of the next series, but the No. 1 goaltender job for the rest of the post-season should be Tomas Vokoun’s job to lose and he shouldn’t go back to the bench by default.
When the Penguins decided Wednesday morning to turn to Vokoun in goal, the decision should have been made with the mindset of Vokoun being the Penguins guy the rest of the way in the playoffs, at least until Vokoun falters, and I hear that’s how the coaching staff views it who I’m told could care less about the long-term ramifications the switch could have for Fleury’s future with the team.
If Vokoun leads the Penguins out of the first round, going right back to Marc Andre Fleury for the start of the next series is a disaster of a situation waiting to happen.
Meanwhile, the ridiculous talk surrounding Fleury is that him getting benched could be good for him. For a goaltender being paid elite money who is 28 years old, in his ninth NHL season, won a Stanley Cup at 24 years old, and appeared in 79 post-season games, his play in the post-season over the last four years now should have never reached the point where the coaching staff has been forced to bench him this spring. Fleury’s struggles in the post-season hasn’t just been a one year problem.