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Mark Madden

MOVING FORWARD

 
MOVING FORWARD
Posted May 9th, 2013 @ 9:26am

The switch has been made. Tomas Vokoun starts Game 5 vs. the New York Islanders. How permanent is that change?

Barring injury, it would be shocking to see Fleury play again this series. Vokoun matches up well against the Islanders. His superior puckhandling will negate the Islanders’ dumping. Vokoun enters the fray with confidence born of a 3-0 record and a 0.90 goals-against average vs. the Islanders this season.

Vokoun is not great going post-to-post, and the Islanders will try to exploit that. But the pros far outweigh the cons. It was a necessary move. Fleury had imploded.

Vokoun will likely play well. The abject chaos of Games 2-4 duly noted, the Penguins still figure to win this series and move on.

Then what?

It would not be shocking to see Fleury between the pipes to start the second round.

It’s what most teams would do: Put the No. 1 goaltender back in after giving him time to regroup. Adding credibility to that idea: Fleury is the Penguins’ glue, the most popular player in the locker room, and Coach Dan Bylsma would likely be loathe to write Fleury off for good without giving him another chance.

Contradicting that notion is the commonly-held belief that Bylsma has never had unwavering faith in Fleury, and would like to replace him.

Vokoun’s skill with the puck will minimize the Islanders’ forecheck, deflate their possession time and save the Penguins’ defensemen many steps. If the Islanders adjust, Vokoun will have forced them away from what’s brought them success. I bet Vokoun eliminates the Islanders.

But I also bet we haven’t see the last of Fleury in these playoffs.


Photo courtesy of GettyImages.

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