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Tomas Vokoun to start Game 3

The team turns back to Tomas Vokoun for Game 3, so now the grand speculation on Marc-Andre Fleury's future in Pittsburgh is definitely in play.

Bruce Bennett

The Pens are going with Tomas Vokoun tonight, and it’s the right call. Look at this playoff’s save percentage- .929% for Vokoun, .883% for Marc-Andre Fleury, and it’s easy to tell they’ve made the right move. Fleury just hasn’t been a good option, he hasn’t shown that he can keep the puck out of the net and they can’t afford to give him a chance to turn it around with the season basically on the line tonight down 0 games to 2. Now, of course, the shockwaves are going through the Penguins world, because of implications for the future. If the Penguins aren’t going with Fleury now, will they ever again? It’s dramatic, but reasonable to wonder what is going to happen.

As the Pensblog put it:

The goaltending change the other night was not the same as Fleury getting his job back. But when Fleury gave up that back-breaking goal late in the first period, that was more or less the ending of his hold on the number one spot in Pittsburgh. For some reason this shocks people, and we know, Fleury had great regular season numbers, but look at reality. Fleury has been terrible in the playoffs of late, and overall he just is not the goalie everyone in Pittsburgh thinks he is

It’s kind of shocking for Penguins fans, Fleury’s been a face of the franchise for now 10 seasons and has been the team’s undisputed top goalie for at least eight years, starting all major games, playoffs and was the only go-to guy the team had or needed. Recently though, his performances haven’t been up to par. As I said in an earlier post- close your eyes and imagine Boston gets 10 shots in the first period of tonight’s Game 3, how many of those do you think Fleury would allow? Personally, I got 2. Vokoun might not stop all 10, but I think he’s more likely to give Pittsburgh a better chance to win tonight. This was further cemented when MAF allowed a goal on the first shot he saw from, Brad Marchand, then late in the game had a good view of a Johnny Boychuk slapper screaming into the net.

What does this mean for the future? Who knows. That’s a question for the summer and a bridge to cross when we get there. Fleury has a limited no trade clause so he'll have a lot of the say of what happens, and remember MAF is like 65-25 in the past two regular seasons. He hasn't been good at all in the playoffs lately, but he's been a workhorse (and a winner) in the regular season and the Penguins definitely need to replace that if they decide they need to move on. Vokoun, while good, will be 37 years old and has a lot of injuries, he's probably not a guy at this stage of his career who will play the 60 games a season that the normal franchise goalie (like Fleury) easily could.

After the season ends and all this blows over, I can’t imagine Fleury would really want to stay in Pittsburgh, now that he’s seen that the team doesn’t have a lot of faith in him right now. But he’s done nothing recently to inspire any faith- it’s too difficult to go out on a branch. The Pens need a win tonight and Tomas Vokoun has been providing them the best chance of that.