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Adjustment bureau: Vokoun learns to play with more rest

Nov 25, 2011, 7:27 PM EST

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It sounds like it should be an easier life for Tomas Vokoun. He’s starting fewer games in his first season with the Washington Capitals. He’s seeing fewer shots in the games in appears in for the Caps. Less games and less shots sounds like it should make for the easiest campaign in Vokoun’s career, right?

Vokoun talked to Chuck Gormley of CSN Washington about the lighter workload this season. “It’s a little adjustment for me,” the veteran netminder said. “For the past 10 years I’ve been used to playing 65-plus games… Saying that, maybe it’s a good thing. I’m going on 36 (years old) and maybe I can focus more on the games and you don’t get as mentally tired.”

He’s shown over his first fifteen starts that he should be able to seamlessly make the transition. He is tied for fourth in the league with 10 wins already despite the talented Michal Neuvirth waiting in the wings. But if you ask the Caps (and Vokoun), Vokoun’s workload is only going to decrease as the season progresses.

The goaltending coach in Washington says that the adjustment isn’t so much the amount of starts this season, it’s the amount of shots that the Czech netminder sees in each appearance. In Florida and Nashville, he’d see plenty of action from the minute he stepped on the ice until the final horn. With the Caps possess-style game, Vokoun can expect to see fewer shots against on an average night. Unfortunately, when the opponent gets a shot on goal, it’s oftentimes a high quality scoring chance. Fewer shots on goal and a lot of Grade A scoring chances is not a great combination for a goaltender’s statistics.

But like any elite team, the only goaltending statistic that truly matters is wins. If he can come up with timely saves show up when the Caps need to lean on him, they’ll be happy with his performance—not matter what the statistics say.

So far, so good.

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