Tomas Vokoun says he is unaware of any public push to put Marc-Andre Fleury back in goal for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
He is planning to clock in for the Penguins as usual Monday night and take his place in goal against the Boston Bruins. At least that’s what Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma told him to do.
“I don’t pay attention much to what the media is saying, never did,” Vokoun said after the Penguins’ game-day skate. “Dan just said to come play next game and that was it.”
It’s been that way ever since Game 5 of the first round of the NHL playoffs when Fleury had another of his playoff meltdowns in a 6-4 loss to the New York Islanders. Since then, Vokoun ran up a 6-1 record until the first game of the Eastern Conference final.
After the Penguins lost 3-0 to the Bruins in the series opener, there have been calls to bring back Fleury but Bylsma is not ready to make a change. Goaltending was the least of the Penguins’ troubles in Game 1, as they let their tempers get the best of them against a team that is well-practiced in the art of annoyance.
Vokoun, 36, was obtained a year ago in a trade with the Washington Capitals for just this situation. Fleury, 28, has been maddeningly inconsistent in the playoffs ever since he was so spectacular in the final game against the Detroit Red Wings when the Penguins won the Stanley Cup in 2009.
After the Penguins bowed out in the first round in 2011 and 2012 because there was no adequate backup for Fleury, general manager Ray Shero vowed this would not happen again and landed Vokoun. He knew the Czech veteran well from his years as the assistant GM with the Nashville Predators, where Vokoun made his name as a top goaltender over eight seasons from 1998 to 2007.
Vokoun may not have been as brilliant against the Bruins as he was in the previous two rounds, but he was solid. The Bruins’ first goal on Saturday came on a deflection and David Krejci scored again when a puck bounced high in the air and the Penguins defence allowed him to swoop in and get his own rebound.
“That happens,” Vokoun said of the Penguins’ troubles in Game 1, “It wasn’t for a lack of effort. [The Bruins] benefited from a couple good bounces. We have that going some nights, too. It’s a new game and hopefully we get ours [Monday].”
Vokoun’s teammates say they, too, don’t pay attention to all the talk about their goaltending in the last couple of days.
“That’s not our decision, obviously,” Penguins forward Craig Adams said. “Whoever is in the net, we’re going to be in good shape.”
Bylsma, though, said he noticed all of the speculation. Not that it had any effect on his decision.
“I watch the NHL Network, so I've heard it talked about,” Bylsma said. “Coaches think about a lot of things: Lineup, players, schemes, so like I said, I heard people talk about it on the NHL Network, so it did cross my mind.”
The only apparent change Bylsma plans for Game 2 is to move Brenden Morrow up from the fourth line to left wing on the third line with centre Brandon Sutter and right winger Matt Cooke. Tyler Kennedy will drop down to play on the right with Adams on the left and Jussi Jokinen at centre.
The Bruins will go with the same lineup as Game 1, with centre Patrice Bergeron and defenceman Zdeno Chara again matched against Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby as much as possible.