LONG-TERM RAMIFICATIONS OF BENCHING FLEURY
Marc Andre Fleury has given up 40 goals in his last 10 post-season games and knowing the confidence the Penguins coaching staff has in Tomas Vokoun, I believe they have reached the point where they are ready to turn to Vokoun in Game 5, but will Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma be able to make the call on his own?
Bylsma has full authority on his lineup but when it comes to the possibility of benching Marc Andre Fleury for Game 5, I believe this would be an organizational decision with management, most notably GM Ray Shero signing off. The reason for that is the long-term ramifications.
Were the Penguins to turn to Vokoun, the team will be doing so with the mindset of sticking with Vokoun as their No. 1 starter for the playoffs, not going with Vokoun on a game by game basis. The ramifications is that benching Fleury could very well mean the end to his career as a Penguin. Benching Fleury in the playoffs with what would now be four straight bad post-seasons, how could the Penguins not decide to turn the page on the Stanley Cup winning goaltender who has two years remaining on his deal with a cap hit of $5 million per season.
The issue for the Penguins is that they don’t have a true No. 1 goaltending in waiting as Vokoun turns 37 in July. Most scouts peg Eric Hartzell as a potential No. 2 goaltender, while prospects Matthew Murray and Sean Maguire are a ways away.
“Tomas Vokoun’s a guy that can step in and play, has had success and won hockey games,” Dan Bylsma said following Game 4. “We’re going to regroup and come back in Game 5. One of the reasons we brought in Tomas Vokoun was to play and win hockey games for us.”