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It’s official: Vokoun to start Game 5 for Pens

May 8, 2013, 1:41 PM EDT


After watching Marc-Andre Fleury struggle over the last three games against the Islanders, Dan Bylsma is making a change in goal.

On Wednesday, the Pittsburgh head coach announced that Tomas Vokoun will start Game 5.

“We brought Tomas Vokoun in to play big games for us,” Bylsma explained. “He’s done that for us and he’s been very good against the Islanders.”

This goaltending switch seemed likely but is still bold, especially considering the circumstances.

Fleury has been a staple in goal for the Penguins over the last seven postseasons, backstopping the team to back-to-back Stanley Cup finals appearances in 2008 and ’09, winning it all the second time around.

That said, the 28-year-old netminder has struggled in this opening-round series — 14 goals on 102 shots over the last three games — and this comes after a 2011-12 postseason where he allowed nearly five goals a game in an opening-round loss to Philly.

Vokoun, 36, has an extensive regular-season resume but not a ton of playoff experience.

He’s only twice appeared in the postseason, most recently with the Nashville Predators in 2007 (he went 1-4 with a .902 save percentage and 2.96 GAA).

But as Byslma mentioned, Vokoun has been good against the Isles this year.

In four games he posted a 3-0-0 record with a 0.90 GAA and .970 save percentage, recording one of his three shutouts on the season.


Columnist: Pens must start Vokoun in Game 5

Crosby says Pens have confidence in Fleury

  1. steelpenbucs87 - May 8, 2013 at 1:45 PM


    I won’t even call it a smart move by Bylsma – it’s his only move. I feel for Fleury but he’s lost his head completely.

    • blockedshotnyr - May 8, 2013 at 1:51 PM


      • shoobiedoobin - May 8, 2013 at 2:32 PM


      • 950003cups - May 8, 2013 at 2:50 PM

        Vokoun is about to write his next paycheck.

        Almost 37 years old
        Won 3 playoff games in his career (2 were in 2004)
        Hasn’t played much this year.

        Of the games he did play, he played well.
        Against good teams too.

  2. imacdane - May 8, 2013 at 1:46 PM

    What’s bold about this? Fleury sucks, and he’s one of the most overrated goalies in the league.

    • jpelle82 - May 8, 2013 at 2:36 PM

      i was thinking somewhat the same thing, as far as the bold part…its a job saving move and a necessary, obvious move….not necessarily bold. i wouldnt call fleury overrated though, no one rates him up there with the best so he cant be over-rated

    • hockeyflow33 - May 8, 2013 at 2:50 PM

      He’s not really helped out by the Penguins offensive first mentality.

    • tsi431 - May 8, 2013 at 3:04 PM

      You obviously have no idea what overrated means.

      Overrated is when a player is not as good as his stats appear.

      Fleury is the complete opposite of overrated. His stats show exactly how mediocre he is. Nothing overrated about it.

      • imacdane - May 8, 2013 at 3:47 PM

        No YOU obviously have no idea what overrated means

    • valoisjoeybfeld69 - May 8, 2013 at 5:14 PM

      Listen. As a coach you need to go with the players that brought you to the playoffs. the ones that you have won with in the past. That’s always the baseline to start. You’re right that Fleury has been terrible. This move is saying that Bylsma has loss confidence in Fleury. The goalie that he has won the SC with. There will ways be loyalty to a certain degree between those who have helped you win the Cup. Make no mistake about it. When it comes to the dynamics of the relationship between players and their coaches, this is a bold move, though it is the correct one. This move, like many is filled with what ifs. And probably taken after speaking with Shero with the coach having the final say. What if Vokun goes all they way and wins the SC? Great move we’ll say. Agreed. Where does that leave fleury on the depth chart? What if Pens get pass the Islanders and need to go back to Fleury? How will the players react if he gives up another soft goal? Good for Bylsma for taking a very tough decision.

  3. cameltoews - May 8, 2013 at 1:47 PM

    Honest question. Does this mean Fluerys days are numbered? A team cannot just have a starting goalie for the regular season. He has to be able to perform in the playoffs. I don’t know what happened to him but his head is not there.

    • steelpenbucs87 - May 8, 2013 at 1:50 PM

      IF (<—for islesjb in case he's floating around) they make it past this round I think they give him a run in the first game or two against the Sens. He had good success against them this season.

      • steelpenbucs87 - May 8, 2013 at 1:51 PM

        SORRY! Assuming the Sens do beat Montreal. Not trying to upset anyone’s fan bases here since we’re all very touchy.

      • imacdane - May 8, 2013 at 1:53 PM

        It wouldn’t matter who was in goal for them against Ottawa, either way they’d get outplayed by Anderson.

      • steelpenbucs87 - May 8, 2013 at 1:59 PM

        The Pens did beat Craig Anderson all three times they played him this year…. Just saying.

      • islesjb - May 8, 2013 at 2:04 PM

        glad to see that you’ve learned the error of your ways

      • steelpenbucs87 - May 8, 2013 at 2:13 PM


      • laxman1944 - May 8, 2013 at 3:30 PM

        An honest to goodness love fest……..Now was that so hard??

        Good stuff

      • jpelle82 - May 8, 2013 at 3:33 PM

        steelpen: its not about the pens beating another goalie, they are beating nabakov consistently and theyve beat the best all year, price, lundquist, anderson, you name it…for the pens its more about beating themselves and the goaltending has been killing them

      • steelpenbucs87 - May 8, 2013 at 3:59 PM

        jpelle – I’m fully aware that the problems with the Pens are not that they aren’t fairing well against another goalie. I was just pointing out that there is a lot more that differentiates the Senators vs. Islanders than just Anderson vs. Nabby. I was just answering an absurd assumption with an absurd rebuttal.

      • laxman1944 - May 8, 2013 at 4:36 PM

        AND as far as I have seen…..Ottowa and Isles…..They look and work like they want it more. They’re grinding for 60 minutes….they just keep coming and have been rewarded for it.

        The last one given up by Marc was a crusher… can’t go back to him at this point….mentally he is fried.

    • mordock57 - May 8, 2013 at 2:48 PM

      I think this is an over-reaction by Bylsma, not to mention most Pens fans. Not every goal is Fleury’s fault, especially the go-ahead goal that was entirely Malkin’s fault, having interfered with his own goalie after the giveaway. Do you now ride Vokoun through the rest of the playoffs if you get past the Isles? What if Vokoun gets shelled in game 5 or 6? THEN what? Go back to the guy you just showed no confidence in? I think this decision puts the Pens chances in succeeding rounds in bigger jeopardy. Fleury should have started tonight (albeit on a somewhat shortened leash) and given the chance to get it all together. If a soft one goes in, Vokoun is still sitting there waiting.

      • valoisjoeybfeld69 - May 8, 2013 at 5:27 PM

        I think it’s the right move, and your arguments give support to the notion that this is a bold move. Sounds like you understand the dynamics and psychology of hockey and this topic I particular. Kudos.

      • chanceoffleury1 - May 9, 2013 at 12:03 PM

        Sometimes it’s more than if the goals were Fleury’s fault or not. They are obviously just doing a total shakeup to try and get the team going. That usually starts with the goalie. Bylsma would lose his job if he didn’t make this move. It might not be fair to Fleury that he’s getting a lot of the heat for bad defense in games 2 and 3, but it is even more unfair to Vokoun to stick him in for his first playoff start in an elimination game. Vokoun was on point this year against a lot of great teams. He shutout both New Yorks, had a joint shutout with Fleury against Montreal, low scoring wins against Boston and Ottawa. His purpose isn’t just to make saves that Fleury let in, it’s to get this teams energy going. They’ve been outplayed for 3 games straight. They’re better than this and need something to remind them of that.

  4. jernster21 - May 8, 2013 at 1:48 PM

    Nothing bold about replacing a goalie who has let in 4-5 goals in 3 consecutive games.

    • 19to77 - May 8, 2013 at 1:53 PM

      Yeah, but ProPenguinsTalk is obligated to make everything the Pens do sound brilliant. Including lose, judging by how the articles about the Isles’ win barely even mentioned them.

      • imacdane - May 8, 2013 at 2:00 PM

        There isn’t one post on the front page about Minnesota’s goaltending situation, but there’s three about this one.

        (Disclaimer: I’m not a Minnesota fan)

      • 950003cups - May 8, 2013 at 2:22 PM

        Minnesota has major issues. Look at the names of that roster.


        That’s 7 star or star-like players (who were healthy for the most part) Add Brodin who should have been considered as a Calder finalist. And they make the postseason on game 48 ?

      • eigglesnosuperbowls - May 8, 2013 at 2:26 PM

        I know crosby gets hit last night with a deflected puck and all you hear is ahhh this tuff to look at it really wasnt i could look at it all day a flylander gets blasted in the helmet with a puck an they never showed it just told you once

      • hockeyflow33 - May 8, 2013 at 2:52 PM

        It’s hard to argue with the numbers though. Look at the amount of comments on Penguins or Flyers posts, (granted most of it is whining between the two fan bases), but they get the clicks to justify it.

    • jpelle82 - May 8, 2013 at 2:41 PM

      i dont see capuano changing nabokov though, and he’s been good for 4.50 goals per game so far. the difference is the islanders werent expected to win this thing or many games even so bylsma hand has been forced, nabokov’s been getting good goal support thanks to fleury….

      • joshuakorr - May 8, 2013 at 3:52 PM

        Also, Vokoun is a much more proven goalie than Poulin. I don’t think of Vokoun as a backup goalie at all, especially if he’s on his game.

  5. malkinrulez - May 8, 2013 at 1:54 PM

    Had to be done. The team seems to play better defensively in front of Vokoun against the Isles. Hopefully that continues.

  6. Stiller43 - May 8, 2013 at 1:59 PM

    Its about time!!! Fleurys like peyton manning…good in reg season, chokes in the playoffs for some reason.

    • mordock57 - May 8, 2013 at 2:50 PM

      Except for that time Fleury won the Cup and Peyton won the Super Bowl? Oh, right… carry on then with your nonsense.

      • valoisjoeybfeld69 - May 8, 2013 at 5:17 PM

        Hahahaha! Nice.

  7. devilsarethebest - May 8, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    Why is noone speaking anout switching Nabokov?

    • fantasyhockeyguru - May 8, 2013 at 2:08 PM

      Because they don’t have a backup of Vokoun’s caliber, and also, aside from 1st periods and half of 2nd periods in this series, Nabokov has been brilliant down the stretch in games. If the Isles are in the game still, going into the final period, he’s been good for them. Poulin didn’t look bad in Game 1 filling in after Nabby was pulled, but he can’t be relied on for a full game to the extent Vokoun could, and Nabby has been this team’s heart and soul all season

      • islesjb - May 8, 2013 at 2:12 PM

        Good call, I practically forgot that Poulin played in game 1. I think that my brain has selectively erased that entire game from my memory.

    • islesjb - May 8, 2013 at 2:10 PM

      No one’s speaking about switching Nabby because he got this team into the playoffs with his play in April and they have no other viable option in net (backup Kevin Poulin has been shaky in the AHL and decent at best in his few starts this year). Nabakov’s one of the few guys on this team with playoff experience and is a leader in the locker room.

      He has been shaky so far this series but to his credit, he made the big stop on (can’t remember which Pen) last night in the third when Fleury did not. He was a difference maker in last night’s W.

      Hoping he can return to midseason form and Vokoun shows some playoff rust.

      • fantasyhockeyguru - May 8, 2013 at 2:24 PM

        All very true, and Nabby’s big stop on 3rd came against Sid. There was one other, as well, don’t remember which. Like I said, Nabby has looked great from halfway through the 2nd until the end of the game in this series. In our 1st win in Pittsburgh he was HUGE in the 3rd as well. He was also big in the game we lost in OT…unfortunate circumstances and outcome, but he still looked great in that time frame also. Our team shook off the slow starts after Game 1, now if Nabby can too, this series should have goaltending that looks much better, but again, Vokoun has a shaky playoff history as well and coming into a series at this pace could be a tough adjustment early

      • islesjb - May 8, 2013 at 2:36 PM

        Yeah that was a beautiful glove save on Crosby in the game 3. The one I think we’re both referring to from last night was a clutch kick save on a shot taken from point blank range.

        Definitely agree- I don’t envy Vokoun for having to jump into this series cold 4 games in.

  8. sjsharks66 - May 8, 2013 at 2:06 PM

    MAF is spectacular in the normal season. He lacks in the playoffs though. Theres no rule saying that if your starting goalie sucks in the post season, but rules all normal season, their days are numbered.

    It would be smart if a team had 2 great goal tenders that they switch them out in the playoffs. Get them to build competition off each other. So every night they are playing 110%.

    • imacdane - May 8, 2013 at 2:14 PM

      Like the Canucks?

    • tarotsujimoto74 - May 8, 2013 at 2:14 PM

      He’s not really all too spectacular during the regular season either.

    • hockeyflow33 - May 8, 2013 at 2:54 PM

      If your goalie isn’t playing his best because the back-up sucks, you have a major problem that another #1 won’t fix.

  9. isithockeyseasonyet - May 8, 2013 at 2:10 PM

    40 goals in past 10 playoff games, enough is enough

  10. Troll_toll - May 8, 2013 at 2:13 PM

    Another first round playoff exit for the NHL’s sweet heart pens only days away.

    • valoisjoeybfeld69 - May 8, 2013 at 5:20 PM

      But how can this happen if the refs and NHL are helping the Pens win?

      • cheesesteak75 - May 9, 2013 at 6:41 AM

        Watch hockey much? Dude your clueless!

      • valoisjoeybfeld69 - May 9, 2013 at 8:33 AM

        Hey! Cheesecake, if you come around here much you’d know that I was being sarcastic because many on here think the NHL and refs are colluding to push the Pens through. And to answer your question I watch 2 games every night. :-)

  11. multiplemiggs - May 8, 2013 at 2:17 PM

    wheres all the D-Bag Pens fans comments? Seems quiet in this here forum.

    • islesjb - May 8, 2013 at 2:25 PM

      appears the d-bag isles fan just arrived

    • hockeywithdrawal - May 8, 2013 at 2:49 PM

      All us D-Bags are here, miggs, we’re just tuckered out from talking about this in the “Bylsma won’t say who’s starting” article, then again in the “Crosby backs Fleury” article, and what not.

      Here you go – I’ll say something D-baggish for ya:


  12. atwatercrushesokoye - May 8, 2013 at 2:20 PM

    No word on Letang cross checking the linesman last night? Based on the video, him looking and seeing it was an official then cross checking him, it should be a minimum 20 game suspension, but because Shanahan has no balls and “it’s the playoffs” he’ll maybe get 1 game, maybe.

    • islesjb - May 8, 2013 at 2:29 PM

      If that were Martin or Carkner, it would have been a life time ban.

      I think the rule might have to do with the fact that no official called anything on the ice at the time the play happened, so nothing subsequent can be done by the league. (That might be completely wrong but I read it somewhere- IN A BOOK).

      • atwatercrushesokoye - May 8, 2013 at 2:47 PM

        I’m not sure why they wouldn’t have given him a game misconduct for that, rule number 1 in any sport is you don’t touch an official! Apparently the suspensions for contacting an official start at 10 games not 20 so I retract that but it clearly should be a 10 game suspension, even if it wasn’t that violent he still cross checked an official and absolutely had time to look and see that it was a linesman not an Islander player.

      • islesjb - May 8, 2013 at 2:53 PM

        At the very least, it should be addressed by the league via some kind of statement. If nothing is going to be done about it, at least give an explanation as to why

      • miketoasty - May 8, 2013 at 4:53 PM

        First off the league said there would be no suspension. Second, if Letang intentionally hit him you think the ref would have at least flinched? This looked more like a love tap than anything, plus the ref called nothing on the ice so he also seems to think the same. If the ref makes the call it could be a suspension otherwise it’s as it is, something else for 29 other fanbases to hate the Pens over.

      • islesjb - May 8, 2013 at 8:14 PM

        hadn’t heard they addressed it thanks.

        He made pretty solid contact with him- if it’s intentional or not has little to do with whether or not he flinches.

  13. sjsharks66 - May 8, 2013 at 2:34 PM

    Wheres the video of Letang cross checking the linesman/ref.

    • atwatercrushesokoye - May 8, 2013 at 2:42 PM

      We’ll see if they let this stay up or if they take it down, couldn’t find the actual video on YouTube so here’s a story that has the video.

  14. burgh916 - May 8, 2013 at 2:36 PM

    I woke up to a miracle… A MIRACLE!!!
    Haha, all joking aside, I’m completely excited by this decision. Vokoun played A LOT of our regular season games, (which Fleury fans had as an excuse to why he had past meltdowns, “he plays too much!”) it’s the perfect time for a change.
    Even if Vokoun doesn’t play too well, oh well, but he can’t play any worse.
    You guys should see the Pens facebook page, it’s pretty pathetic right now.
    “Yeah Fleury needs a rest! He’ll bounce back for Game 6!!!”
    No… Just no.

    • islesjb - May 8, 2013 at 2:41 PM

      I can remember Vokoun being very frustrating to watch/play against when the Isles played against him during the regular season.

      • burgh916 - May 8, 2013 at 2:48 PM

        Yeah, it’s definitely worth a shot. We seem to score a lot of goals, but can’t do good in a run and gun game. We start off playing positionally sound, but then soft goals happen, and we have to play catch up, which turns into the run and gun. Islanders have a really tough team, if you weren’t playing us right now, I could enjoy watching them hahah.

      • islesjb - May 8, 2013 at 2:51 PM

        Yes they are definitely a young fun team to watch

  15. sjsharks66 - May 8, 2013 at 3:10 PM

    Hmm… Very interesting. Heat of the moment? Saw red and did not distinguish it was a linesman before it was too late? Who knows. I was expecting much worse though. Im sure they would rather take that then the jason demers punch. Haha

  16. billgatesbarber - May 8, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    None of this matters if the Pens don’t start playing better in their own zone. They are constantly getting outworked and turning the puck over and the Isles are making them pay.

  17. mclovinhockey - May 8, 2013 at 3:32 PM

    So any news on the automatic 10 game suspension coming to Letang or if Morrow will be disciplined for his actions?

    • islesjb - May 8, 2013 at 3:54 PM

      wow I thought the Letang crosscheck to the official was pretty bad but I wasn’t even aware of Morrow on Cizikas- that is straight up Ludicrous.

      It’s official- the Penguins are capable of getting away with anything.

      How about Cooke and another Penguin shoving Martin into their bench? No call on that either.

      I don’t necessarily disagree with the refs “putting away the whistles” and letting the players decide the outcome (wish they would have done that in game 3), but that has it’s limits. Cooke and Morrow exceeded those limits.

      Cooke should have gotten a roughing/interference penalty for the assault on Martin and Morrow should have been given at least 2 minutes as well because that was dangerous

      • Troll_toll - May 8, 2013 at 4:31 PM

        I figured you guys were just exaggerating until I watched the video WOWWWW. No way it can be argued Letang didn’t realize it was a linesmen. And the Morrow incident. What trash. Pen’s really are the doll of the NHL. Should be some serious suspensions being handed down….but yet….crickets….Can you imagine if one of the islander players slammed Cindy’s head into the ice repeatedly??

      • chanceoffleury1 - May 9, 2013 at 3:44 PM

        That was Morrow on the Cooke and Martin thing, too.

    • wicky888 - May 8, 2013 at 7:08 PM

      None of them will receive any suspensions, this is the Penguins we are talking about. Joke

  18. steelers88 - May 8, 2013 at 3:45 PM

    I have been one of Flureys biggest supporters but enough is enough! It is Tomas Voukouns time to shine in net. I have been making excuses for Flurey but that 3rd goal did it for me. Could Flurey be a buyout candidate next year?

  19. sjsharks66 - May 8, 2013 at 3:47 PM

    The Morrow situation is stupid. He was pushing someone on the ice. We see forms of that all the time. When players lay on someone, punch them in the back of the head as they get up or rough them up on the ice.

    Penalty should have been called but thats it.

  20. steelers88 - May 8, 2013 at 4:02 PM

    Really!!!! The Islanders were getting ALL the penalty calls last night. The refs were on your side! How about the refs not calling a penalty on Nabakov for diving when cooke bumped into him! The Islanders fans aren’t much better they acted like total animals throwing beer bottles at players REALLY!!!!!! And I thought the Flyers fans were bad.

    • phillyphanatic77 - May 8, 2013 at 4:22 PM

      Are you kidding? The Pens got away with numerous, blatant penalties. And that was before their stereotypical “we’re losing, time for cheap shots” meltdown. Pens fans love to talk about the Flyers being goons but it seems anytime things aren’t going their way they lose any semblance of composure.

    • coopjr - May 8, 2013 at 4:37 PM

      You don’t know anything about Flyers fans.

    • atwatercrushesokoye - May 8, 2013 at 5:30 PM

      Iginla (a player I love because of his Calgary career!) got away with a brutal trip on Okposo when the refs were waiting to call a delayed penalty, that’s probably why they let it go, they shouldn’t have though, it should have been 5 on 3 for 2 minutes or less.

  21. steelers88 - May 8, 2013 at 4:06 PM

    Why is everyone talking about the second round? Shouldn’t you guys be more worried about the Penguins surviving the 1st round?

    • bcisleman - May 8, 2013 at 5:30 PM

      You hit the nail on the head. Not only Pen fans but the Pens themselves were looking past the Islanders. This was exacerbated by Game 1, which was an aberration based on a total lack of playoff experience on the part of the Isles and their coach.

      Sure Flower is struggling and Vokoun has a good record vs the Isles BUT Flower is the Pens’ #1 G and Vokoun has very little playoff experience all of which was a long time ago and none of which was against the Isles.

      This move is, as much as anything, a wakeup call for the Pens roster. Byelsma is saying: “Game 1 was a gift, Games 2 & 4 you lost and Game 3 you should have lost. This Islander team could beat you even if you start playing your best hockey. It is definitely going to beat you if you don’t. If I benched Flower, I can bench you too. Get your act together!”

  22. joewilliesshnoz - May 8, 2013 at 6:02 PM

    Julia Child coulda stopped the shots that Fleury let in, it’s time for a change.

  23. phillyphannn83 - May 8, 2013 at 6:48 PM


  24. REDSKINSFORLIFE - May 8, 2013 at 7:28 PM

    I don’t care who plays for Pitt as long as the isles wrap up Cindy’s season.

  25. multiplemiggs - May 8, 2013 at 11:29 PM

    you morons have no idea what you are talking about

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