Penguins' Vokoun still thinks he's on 'tryout'
By Josh Yohe
Published: Sunday, May 26, 2013, 11:06 p.m.
Tomas Vokoun should feel pretty comfortable by now. He has pulled the Penguins out of a first-round mess against the New York Islanders and played a vital role in their dominance of the Ottawa Senators.
The Penguins are his team, right?
Vokoun would have you believe otherwise. The veteran is enjoying his role as starting goaltender during the Stanley Cup playoffs and almost assuredly will start Game 1 against the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference final. But he takes nothing for granted.
“I always feel like it's a tryout,” he said.
It's been quite the tryout.
Vokoun is 6-1 in seven playoff games, rescuing the Penguins after goalie Marc-Andre Fleury — and the defense in front of him — played a dangerously loose style of hockey against the Islanders that put their Stanley Cup hopes in jeopardy.
His consistency has been just what the Penguins needed. The team that is scoring 4.27 goals per game during the postseason doesn't require superb goaltending, but rather needs a steady hand that will keep it in every game.
Vokoun has done just that, allowing no more than three goals in any of his seven starts. He has recorded one shutout, a one-goal game, a couple of two-goal games and a trio of three-goal games.
Vokoun's 1.85 goals against average and .941 save percentage rank among the NHL's best numbers this spring. Still, he doesn't suggest that the job is officially his.
“I don't look at it any different than I (did) before the first game,” he said. “Once you stumble, you never know what's going to happen. It doesn't matter. I'm part of the team, and we're here to win, so whoever's in net and whatever's going on, as long as we're winning, that's the most important thing.
“Obviously, you feel good about winning and helping the team win. But as far as the future, we'll see.”
Vokoun is taking the modest approach, and his teammates still hold Fleury in high regard. But the Penguins aren't afraid to acknowledge that Vokoun's calm influence is something they required following the poor start against the Islanders.
“He's been really, really good,” defenseman Matt Niskanen said. “He's been that stable force back there that gives us a chance every night. He's making all the big saves right now.”
Vokoun's calming personality, Niskanen said, is almost as important as the big saves.
“That's just kind of the way he is, so calm,” Niskanen said. “Everything about him is calm. He's a good veteran to have in obviously an important division. When you see him and how he handles himself, it just rubs off on everyone.”
Vokoun entered these playoffs with a 3-8 career postseason record.
He's already doubled that win total and shows no signs of slowing down. Vokoun said he feels strong physically and, despite the workload, hasn't missed one off-ice workout.
“He's just been so strong,” defenseman Douglas Murray said.
Vokoun said that, despite the wild past few weeks, he takes a few moments to smell the roses of these playoffs.
“Quite a bit,” he said with a smile.
And then he turns serious again when speaking of the playoff games that remain.
“For me,” he said, “there's nothing set in stone here. I play every game like it could be my last.”
Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins’ Neal apologizes, vows to be better
- Penguins notebook: Thousands pack Consol for practice
- Penguins’ Neal suspended five games for Marchand hit
- Penguins players are not out looking for fights
- Rossi: Penguins’ Orpik among select NHLers going without gluten
- Penguins notebook: Scuderi could practice within a week
- Young defensemen lift Penguins to win
- Baby Penguins notebook: Goaltenders find their places in system
- Penguins have never been better on power play
- Ex-Penguins winger Kennedy ‘emotional’ about return
- Penguins notebook: Injury keeps Malkin out against Sharks