Saturday night a sigh of relief went through Pittsburgh as the Penguins won their first playoff series in three years beating the New York Islanders 4-3 in OT on a goal from the most unlikely source: Brooks Orpik. Now it's Monday and the battle starts anew tomorrow night at 7:30 against the Ottawa Senators a team that dismantled the #2 seeded Montreal Canadiens in 5 games and the question floating around town - who to start in goal?
The popular thought is to stick with what won them the first series, ride the hot hand - or goalie in this case. And while Tomas Vokoun did a marvelous job stepping into the net in replace of Marc-Andre Fleury, who once again struggled through the early stages of this post-season, he is not the Penguins starting goaltender nor, if conventional wisdom is to be heeded, the goalie that will win them the cup. Fleury holds that distinction.
Looking at the bigger picture and not just towards winning Game 1 of this round then I don't see how you do not start Fleury. There will be no better time during this fight to the cup to get him back in the mix. The score is 0-0, it's not a do or die situation, it is in fact the perfect scenario to get this teams franchise goalie back into form. The risk does exist, Fleury could still be in that strange headspace that had him over playing even the simplest shot and they could lose but wouldn't it be better for that to happen now in game 1 of round 2 than in game 5 of round 3? And Vokoun is always there to step in and right the ship again while the deficit is only 1. But the reward, a Marc-Andre Fleury who's found his game again, a confident Fleury who on his best night looks unbeatable, a Fleury who has won the cup before and has the potential to do so again.
Think the risk is worth it?
I do, and I think Bsylma, the only person's who opinion matters, also does.
So let's think big picture - you know the one with from 2009 - and play your best chance, not the hot hand.