Penguins coach Dan Bylsma insists he still believes in Marc-Andre Fleury, that the issues for the reeling Penguins go far beyond the struggles of their Stanley Cup-winning goaltender.
Still, that didn’t stop Bylsma from making a switch he hopes will shift momentum in Pittsburgh’s highly entertaining but slightly bewildering first-round playoff series with the New York Islanders.
Tomas Vokoun will get the start in net for the Penguins in Game 5 tonight, a move necessitated by three straight shaky performances by Fleury and Vokoun’s eye-popping numbers against the Islanders this season.
“We brought Tomas Vokoun in to play big games for us,” Bylsma said.
The 36-year-old veteran’s next start might be the biggest of his career. The eighth-seeded Islanders tied the series at 2-all with a wild, momentum-swinging 6-4 victory on Tuesday night, one that seemed to further erode Fleury’s confidence. New York scored three times in the game’s final 16 minutes, including a pair of soft goals that found Fleury woefully out of position.
Fleury expressed his frustration afterward. His remorse, however, didn’t stop him from being yanked in the playoffs for the first time in his career. The last time someone other than Fleury started a postseason game for the Penguins was in 2001.
Vokoun, acquired in a trade with Washington last spring, served as 1b to Fleury’s 1a during the regular season, going 13-4 with a 2.45 goals-against-average. He was even better against the Islanders, posting a perfect 3-0 record while stopping 98 of 101 shots.