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Add “goaltending” to Capitals’ crisis list

Dec 13, 2011, 10:04 PM EDT

St Louis Blues v Washington Capitals Getty Images

When it comes to the Washington Capitals’ outlook, there really haven’t been a whole lot of positives beyond Jason Chimera playing out of his mind. Even so, one guy who hasn’t received a ton of blame is goalie Tomas Vokoun, but after a dreadful 5-1 loss against the Claude Giroux-less Philadelphia Flyers, it might be time to beat up on him a bit.

Vokoun was pulled from the game after allowing four goals through two periods and many believed he shouldn’t have even made it that far.

It’s reasonable that (most) people have been fairly easy on Vokoun overall. He’s certainly been much better than Michal Neuvirth and isn’t exactly getting paid up to his expectations, but those aren’t very comforting qualifiers.

Then again, maybe it all comes back to the Capitals trying to force a system that just doesn’t suit them. Perhaps Dale Hunter should take notes from Peter Laviolette’s attacking Flyers and revert to the reckless and fun style that this team made downright sexy reaching back to 2008-09.

Maybe going defense-first fooled people last season, but the Capitals just don’t have the personnel to make it work – and that might just include their top goalie.

Update: Keith Jones and Mike Milbury discuss Vokoun’s issues.

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  1. 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Dec 13, 2011 at 10:14 PM

    One bad game doesn’t mean much, the guy’s been one of their only solid players this year. GAA under 3.00 and SV% over .900 isn’t anything to complain about when there are much more glaring problems

    • James O'Brien - Dec 13, 2011 at 10:26 PM

      I generally agree, but he hasn’t been the goalie that Washington/most of us expected. He’s inching toward 90% after tonight, too, I’d guess.

    • stakex - Dec 14, 2011 at 2:22 AM

      One bad game? Try a lot of bad games, and a 2.81 GAA is in fact something to complain about. That sees him tanked 31st in the league. Oh, and his SV%? Ranked 26th in the league. How is that NOT something to complain about when Washington had very high hopes for Vokoun?

      And its not just the numbers, its that he has given up several very bad goals over his last few games. Nothing hurts a struggling team worse then seeing your supposed star goalie giving up really bad goals.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Dec 14, 2011 at 10:37 AM

        I said it’s nothing to complain about when he’s the least of their problems. Patrick Roy couldn’t help this team the way they’ve been playing this year

      • stakex - Dec 14, 2011 at 12:36 PM

        Thing is the Caps haven’t been playing THAT bad aside from the last few games under Boudreau. If they had a goalie like Thomas or Lundquist they would certainly have won more games. Obviously the Caps are not scoring like they need to, and their defense is… well, awful.

        However good goaltending can certainly lift a team thats struggling. In fact, I would argue that the Caps BIGGEST issue this year has been the play of their goalies. Again its not even the numbers, its the awful goals that both of them have been giving up. How can a struggling team get out of their funk when every time they start looking good, they give up a weak goal?

        This game was a great example. The Caps didn’t look that bad for the first half of the game… but then Vokoun gave up some really bad goals that just crushed them. You can’t have a goalie doing that when your trying to climb out of a funk.

      • 1943mrmojorisin1971 - Dec 14, 2011 at 3:02 PM

        I don’t buy that for a second. When things aren’t going well bad things like ugly goals seem to happen. The whole team needs to pick it up and give their goalie some support. Vokoun is good but he’s not good enough to be the Caps saviour unless the rest of the team starts doing its part. Bottom line is they need to start scoring some goals or things aren’t going to get better for them any time soon

  2. dbick - Dec 13, 2011 at 11:00 PM

    Tebowmania has even made it onto a hockey blog

    • James O'Brien - Dec 13, 2011 at 11:02 PM

      Thanks for pointing that out.

  3. danphipps01 - Dec 13, 2011 at 11:38 PM

    Vokoun… hoy. He’s been a lot like Bryzgalov – decent, even good, but not as good as he was supposed to be. Difference is, he costs a pittance and isn’t signed for the next million years, but even so, for a team with the win-now mentality, he ain’t cuttin’ it. And the Flyers, they can afford Bryz being questionable in the short term – they’re scoring every other shift, what the fuck do they need to worry about? Meanwhile, the former premier offensive squad of the NHL is lucky to get three goals a game. Very lucky. They’ve got decent defense, decent offense and decent goaltending – but when that’s all you’re getting out of players who in theory should be putting out decent defense and GREAT offense and goaltending, you start getting worried. Very worried.

  4. dowhatifeellike - Dec 14, 2011 at 12:09 AM

    Vokoun was a bad signing. He was never the answer. At the end of last season the Caps had Neuvirth, Varlamov, and Holtby. They didn’t need anyone else.

    • danphipps01 - Dec 14, 2011 at 12:47 AM

      Varlamov’s not been stellar in the past. There was no reason to expect him to improve in the future. Neuvirth is actually noticeably WORSE than Vokoun. That leaves Holtby. Holtby, with all of fourteen NHL games under his belt, against Vokoun, who has consistently been one of the top ten netminders until this year. I think we know why you’re not the GM, chief. Two mid-range backups and an AHL prospect do not a healthy goaltending situation make.

      If anything, I figure the solution was trying to shuttle out Semin’s salary at the end of the season and using the cap space to gun for a bigger-name goalie, but whatever. It’s not like they can’t do that at the end of this one. They’ll have the room and some quality guys are coming into free agency, so if they don’t go and resign the walking bag of penalty minutes, they should hopefully be able to buy one quality goaltender.

      That, or, um, hope and pray that Holtby can save them. Lord knows Neuvirth isn’t up to the challenge.

  5. wheresdapuck - Dec 14, 2011 at 6:00 AM

    I will admit I did not watch the game last night! That said, there has been a total breakdown in the blueliners failing to clear the puck, failing to pass properly on the breakouts, etc. Yes, Vokoun has let in some soft goals.

    I was hoping for a 3 goalie rotation at the beginning of this year with Varly, Nuevy and Holtby. But they traded Varly and got Vokoun. The most promising star is Holtby, but no goalie is going to be successful in DC if the Caps let 5 or 6 odd-man rushes & 4 break-aways per game and can’t clear the puck! Too many scoring opportunities for the better teams in the NHL!

  6. bcjim - Dec 14, 2011 at 8:06 AM

    Caps played AWFUL all around. Just disgusting.

    Someone tell them the goal is not in the corner because that is the only place they seem to be interested in putting the puck. You dont get points in hockey for cycling the puck around in the corner, just FYI.

  7. watermelon1 - Dec 14, 2011 at 8:36 AM

    Bottom line… it’s HOLTBY TIME.

  8. jpelle82 - Dec 14, 2011 at 11:22 AM

    all 5 goals were soft. i said this when the caps signed him, vokoun hasnt done jack his whole career, the fans couldnt actually expect for him to be the messiah could they? his stats were padded by the amount of shots he faced playing for a horrible florida team over the past few years and he hasnt proven to be a winner, ever. notice how he vokoun gone and florida is winning now? sometimes guys just bring the stink with them. good luck…the sooner you get holtby in there with games under his belt the sooner this ship gets turned around. i dont see the caps playing for vokoun…i’ve seen them play their asses off for holtby though.

    • somekat - Dec 14, 2011 at 12:00 PM

      If that’s true, then they should have a whole list of guys they should be looking to dump. If the team isn’t playing hard for a ceratin goalie (especially the starter), that is a problem with the rest of the team. I could even see if it was, say, Bryzgalov in Pheonix last year. He played so many games, and was so important to their system, I could see the team mailing in a few games when he was out.

      But if your starter is playing, and the team doesn’t play hard for them, you have to start to question the players. In particular, the guy wearing the C and the 2 wearing the A.

      • jpelle82 - Dec 14, 2011 at 1:45 PM

        i agree, the coaching changes, the goalie changes, the defensive overhaul….none of it has worked in the last 5 years. i blame the russians

      • jpelle82 - Dec 14, 2011 at 1:46 PM

        vokoun gave up that softie to hartnell and the team just gave up on him last night

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