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Vokoun hoping experience ‘will pull me through’

May 9, 2013, 2:40 PM EDT

Tomas Vokoun Getty Images

Tomas Vokoun is excited — and, yes, a little nervous — to be making his first playoff appearance since 2007.

Pittsburgh’s 36-year-old backup goalie will start Game 5 tonight at home versus the Islanders; he’ll replace Marc-Andre Fleury, who struggled in Game 4’s 6-4 loss that evened the series at two games apiece.

“For me, I’m going to enjoy it,” Vokoun said Thursday morning, per “I wasn’t sure I was ever going to get the chance to play again in playoffs. It’s nice to have the chance. You play hockey to be in this moment. You don’t play hockey to go for morning skate, take shots and do that.

“Everybody is nervous; you wouldn’t be human if you weren’t. But I’ve played long enough and been through a lot, and hopefully that will pull me through.”

The pressure is squarely on the Penguins — one of the Stanley Cup favorites — to beat the underdog Isles tonight. If they lose, they face the prospect of a first-round elimination game on the road, and in a very hostile environment.

PHT Extra: Is starting Vokoun the right call?

  1. letsgopens8771 - May 9, 2013 at 3:00 PM

    Go Vokoun! Hope he does well. Maybe the Penguins might start playing some quality defense now that Vokoun is in because they always play well in front of him. Wish they gave Flower that kind of support, or this series would already be over.

    • f2maestro - May 9, 2013 at 3:15 PM

      To your point, I think the defense will play a more sound game tonight (although that could be wishful thinking) with Vokoun in net as he brings a different presence to the back end and a different energy (if you believe in that sort of thing). Vokoun doesn’t normally buy into the emotion of a game as much and is a better positional goalie, however he lacks the agility to cover up for his mistakes like Fluery can. If the D is soft and the Islanders are able to make those cross-ice passes, then I don’t see Vokoun being the answer.

      Part of me thinks tonight could go something like this:
      Vokoun lets in 3 – 4 on his first 13 or so shots, and then gets yanked for Fluery. Fluery comes back, plays his tail off, shutting the door and allows the Pens to score their way back to a 3-2 series lead.

      I hope Vokoun is the answer for the series, but I really hope Fluery is able to get a grip or the Pens are no good past the 1st round (in my opinion).

      • chanceoffleury1 - May 9, 2013 at 4:50 PM

        The Pens won’t pull Vokoun unless something monumentally bad happens in the first 40 minutes. Vokoun and Fleury had similar stats in the regular season, so to keep Fleury in but pull Vokoun at his first sign of trouble isn’t fair. And besides, if they pull Vokoun and put Fleury in, what happens if Fleury isn’t lights out? What happens if he gets absolutely shelled? Then the Pens are 100% done with this series. God forbid they lose tonight, but if they do, I wouldn’t be so fast to put it beyond Fleury and the rest of this team to come back for games 6 and 7 and rally to win the series. Yeah, they’ve been lackluster, but just remember the names on those jerseys. There’s a reason they had such high expectations. They have the potential to come back strong and go on absolute tears for stretches of time. Tonight is a huge game and should be played like a Game 7 for the Pens, but even if it doesn’t go their way, they need to stay focused and remember the series isn’t over until it’s over. They can win 2 games against the Islanders in a 3 game series. Doesn’t matter if they are 5 and 6 or 5 and 7 or 6 and 7. They just need to win 2 games and then they get a clean slate to prove how dominant they can be.

    • stakex - May 9, 2013 at 4:00 PM

      Series would already be over? If not for a Oscar worthy dive from Crosby in game three, it could very well be 3-1 Islanders right now. The Islanders, aside from not showing up in game 1, have all but dominzated the “dream team” in the series…. and you are going to act like the Pens could have won it already? Yeah, ok….

      • islesjb - May 9, 2013 at 4:10 PM

        typical pens fan? 😉

      • sportsfreak13 - May 9, 2013 at 4:36 PM

        5-4 and 6-4 wins are not dominating. I know that the score doesn’t always reflect the game but in this instance all three games (including the pens 2-1 OT win) have been 50-50. As for the dive you say Crosby took, well only one team has been charged with a dive and it wasn’t the pens. The reason he says the pens could of won it already is more likely due to the fact that they haven’t been playing to their potential. The turnovers are killing us right now and once we fix that plus some discipline we SHOULD be winning this series. Its the playoffs, anything can happen.

    • eigglesnosuperbowls - May 9, 2013 at 6:24 PM

      In the words of Bryz ” Not Good “

  2. girouxed - May 9, 2013 at 3:50 PM

    He should’ve been in to relieve in the last game.

  3. chanceoffleury1 - May 9, 2013 at 4:08 PM

    Vokoun was better than some teams’ starters for stretches of this season. He came up big whenever Flower was injured and beat some really quality teams throughout the season. He seemed to be either lights out or horrendously bad. There was never much in between, so I’m hoping lights out Vokoun shows up. Contrary to what a lot of people are saying, I think Vokoun playing well and potentially getting the Pens out of this round with the W will actually boost Fleury’s playoff confidence. If they lose this series he is gonna feel a lot of guilt, but if Vokoun helps get them out of it then he gets a fresh start in round 2 with a major chance to redeem himself. The Pens match up better against Ottawa and the Rangers in terms of style and their strengths vs opponent’s weaknesses. IF they do get out of this and go far, I think this could very well end up being their toughest series. And yes, unless Vokoun gets ridiculously hot I do think Fleury sees ice time in round 2 if the Pens get there. He’s still their starter and I think you have to give him the chance to redeem himself. Especially because it seems like he’s gonna be playing for his contract. If he can’t get this team far his days are probably numbered.

  4. burgh916 - May 9, 2013 at 7:53 PM

    Well, looks like Vokoun set the tone here.
    If only the team would follow suit. It sickens me sometimes how fast we go from “playing with passion.”
    To moping up and down the ice. At least he’s giving us a chance to win, Bylsma needs to fire the boys up.

  5. colossal87 - May 9, 2013 at 10:55 PM

    Thanks for the win/shutout u gamechanger!!

  6. drone501 - May 10, 2013 at 12:07 AM

    great job tomas.

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