The Pittsburgh Penguins closed out the New York Islanders in six games after Tomas Vokoun replaced Mac-Andre Fleury in net.
Vokoun has the hot hand, winning two games with a .957 save percentage. Fleury is the incumbent starter and a Stanley Cup winner.
Who gets the call for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night?
It’s Vokoun, according to the veteran netminder on Tuesday morning.
It’s a safe play for coach Dan Bylsma. Best case scenario: Vokoun grabs the reins and doesn’t let go, and the Penguins play without concern that their netminder a ticking sieve-bomb.
Worst case: Vokoun falters, and Bylsma turns to his No. 1 guy after significant head-clearing time on the bench.
Vokoun faced the Senators once in the regular season, winning the game and stopping 34 of 35 shots.
Here’s how Ron Cook of the Post Gazette read the goalie situation on Monday:
The guess here is Bylsma will go with Vokoun again in Game 1 against the Senators and ride him until he loses or has a bad game, although I wouldn't have any problem if he went right back to Fleury. It has to be back to Fleury at some point. Vokoun was acquired in a trade with Washington before the season to rescue the Penguins in case Fleury had a bad game or was injured. But Fleury is the man who has to play the majority of games if the team is going to compete for the Cup. The franchise has bet millions that he is their guy.
That’s true, but let’s use blackjack to flesh out this gambling scenario.
The Penguins wagered large with Fleury. Problem is, the dealer is showing an ace. In blackjack, you can buy insurance to cover your behind if your hand isn’t strong enough that round.
The Penguins acquired Vokoun for insurance, and he’s provided it. But you don’t bring in a veteran former starter with an eye on him being just a band-aid in this situation. If he gets rolling, there’s no reason to believe this isn’t his net.
A contract and nostalgia shouldn’t cloud the fact that Marc-Andre Fleury has become a trainwreck in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and a goaltender his teammates lost their faith in against the Islanders.