Tomas Vokoun is in for Game 5Posted: 09/05/2013
No surprise for us here. MAF has been just awful. By no means is he the only problem on this team at this time, and we would never pretend that he is, but you can only play so many playoff games in a row BELOW AVERAGE before you get benched. And here’s the facts: in the last two playoff series MAF has given up an insane 40 goals in 10 games, since 2009 he hasn’t even come close to a .900 save percentage in the playoffs, he’s been fighting the puck all day every day, and he’s been culpable to more “soft” goals than we can count.
And yesterday was the final straw. Really Game 6 of the 2012 Conference Quarterfinals was the last straw, as far as the Penguins trusting in Fleury explicitly went. That’s why they brought Tomas Vokoun in at a not cheap $2.5 million/year (for a little perspective, excepting the two next most expensive back ups put together, Martin Biron and Peter Budaj, Vokoun’s deal is worth more than any two “back ups” in the Eastern Conference Playoffs combined) deal in the offseason. From the moment he came to Pittsburgh we here at Reggie’s House have always viewed him as a “1a” type option, our belief was that he could be the second half of potentially one of the best goaltending tandems in the whole league. Minus a couple of meaningless games in mid-February, Vokoun has held up his end of the bargain. So well in fact that we felt the need to write in favor of his continued play during the playoffs. In that piece we made one tragic faux pas. We claimed that in 2008 Chris Osgood played the entire postseason and was occasionally spelled by Dominik Hasek. We were wrong: Hasek started the first four games (which the Wings split 2-2 with the 8th seeded Stars) before turning to the venerable Osgood. I think that worked okay for them. By no means do we promise the same success this year, but it can’t hurt.
Game 5 is the right time for Vokoun to start a game. He doesn’t enter with all the pressure of elimination, it will be on friendly home ice, he’s got a couple days to prepare, and as we always say when it comes to contracts: better to move on a little early than a little late.
As to what happens with MAF from here: the rest of this series is Vokoun’s. Personally I wouldn’t be opposed to running with Vokoun until he drops two in a row, whether that should be in this series or if it should be in the conference finals. I could concede possibly giving the first game of the next round (if the Pens can make it there) to MAF, but chances are pretty good that IF the Pens advance, Vokoun will likely have played pretty well, thus complicating that argument. It’s impossible to say what could happen after that.
And what happens if Vokoun struggles? Well, then the Pens as you know them now will cease to exist. The best thing that could happen for MAF is that Vokoun does play well, if he doesn’t then we would say it’s a certainty that MAF and his $5.25 million/year would get bought out. Bylsma will be gone, and you have to wonder if either Kris Letang and or Geno would get traded as well. We sure hope that doesn’t happen.
We know, we know Fleury has not been the whole problem. We have repeatedly stated that the Pens D has been way too soft and given way too much respect to the Islanders forwards. In order to help with that we’ve said that the Pens’ forwards need to backcheck a lot better. And Tuesday’s game highlighted the failure of the Pens’ forecheck too. But you can’t bench the whole team. You can bench the goaltender, you can do that to send a message to the rest of the team. Fleury hasn’t earned the moniker as “THE Go-To Guy,” if you think he has you’re still living in 2009, and that’s a shame because Twitter is really cool.