Pittsburgh Penguins turning to backup Tomas Vokoun for Game 5
The Penguins have made as radical a switch as they can for Game 5 Thursday night, replacing goalie Marc-Andre Fleury with Islanders nemesis Tomas Vokoun in an effort to finally take control of the series. The Islanders' response was a vow to not change a thing.
At least they won't be altering their attitude and preparation just because they will face a 15-year veteran who was described by Penguins coach Dan Bylsma, after the 6-4 loss Tuesday, as "a guy who can step in and play. He's had success and won hockey games against this team."
Bylsma made it official in Pittsburgh Wednesday afternoon, after the Islanders left Nassau Coliseum for the airport following an optional workout. At the time, they did not know for sure that they will be facing someone different, but they basically said it doesn't matter.
"Our approach going into the series was to put a lot of pucks on net. If they change goaltenders, we're going to continue to do that," Brad Boyes said. "We need to get pucks there and we need guys there. Regardless of who's in net, that's still a game plan of ours."
Coach Jack Capuano said the Islanders prepared before the series for every contingency. He added that many of his team's goals would have gone in against anybody. "Listen, I know everybody is making a thing about Fleury, but he's a Stanley Cup goaltender," Capuano said. "Whoever they put in the net is going to give them a chance to win."
Keith Aucoin said, "You can't worry about a goalie. When we're playing well, we're getting a lot of shots, a lot of traffic."
The Penguins apparently acquired Vokoun, 36, (from the Capitals for a seventh-round pick) for just such an occasion. They were eliminated in the first round by the Flyers last year when Fleury sputtered and believed they needed insurance.
"We brought Tomas Vokoun in to play big games for us," Bylsma told reporters Wednesday in Pittsburgh. "He has done that this year for us and he has been very good in the three games he has played against the Islanders."
Vokoun is 3-0 and has allowed only three goals in three starts and one other appearance against the Islanders in 2013. Lifetime against them, he is 17-7-1 with a 1.95 goals-against average. On the other hand, he is 3-8 all-time in the playoffs (all with the Predators) and has not been in a postseason game since 2007.
Whatever his most pertinent statistic might be, the Islanders have no plan to scrap their own prevailing style. "We have to get in the dirty areas, get in front of the goalie so that it's hard on him," Matt Carkner said. "One player change isn't really going to affect us too much. Being a goalie, maybe there are different tendencies that we can look at, but it's not going to change a whole lot."