March 30, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Tomas Vokoun (92) is greeted by goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) after Vokoun shutout the New York Islanders at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Pittsburgh Penguins won 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Pens Opening Day Starter: Fleury Or Vokoun?

 

While goaltender Tomas Vokoun finished out the postseason as the Pens starter in net — does that mean he’ll be in line to start for them in the opener?

Or better yet, will Marc-Andre Fleury become the official backup?

You shouldn’t count on it — but you should count on Vokoun potentially splitting the amount of games played with Fleury.

After yet another dismal postseason performance, Fleury is under more pressure than ever entering the 2013-14 campaign.

Even though Fleury thrived during the regular-season — where he went 23-8-0 — he replicated the meltdown he displayed in the 2012 NHL playoffs, when the team was eliminated by the Philadelphia Flyers in the first-round.

Posting a horrendous 3.52 goals-against-average and a .883 save percentage this past postseason, the “Flower,” had the pedals come off once again, leaving the door open for Vokoun.

But because Fleury showcased terrible goaltending for the second-year in a row, Vokoun could be in line for a split-role — and perhaps getting the nod for opening day.

The veteran goaltender might start in net for the opener; however, the team is not going to give up on Fleury because they know what he’s capable of.

Leading Pittsburgh to back-to-back Stanley Cup Finals appearances in 2008 and 09′, Fleury is still under contract and will remain on the roster following next season unlike Vokoun — whose deal is set to expire.

Unless Fleury is moved — which is highly unlikely — the Pens are going to give him every opportunity to succeed.

With that being said, he’s going to have to break out of the mental funk he seems to fall into when the playoffs commence.

It gets frustrating when a team of such compelling firepower bows out because of uncharacteristic goaltending.

The defense has a part in this, but with how Fleury’s giving them up and how often they’re being scored, it’s hard to place a lot of blame towards the blueliners.

Vokoun on the other hand was steady all season long and gave the Pens the best chance at winning every time he was slotted to start.

Going 13-4-0 in the regular-season and posting a 2.45 goals-against-average with a .919 save percentage, Vokoun registered a 2.01 goals-against-average with a .933 save percentage (4th in the NHL) during the playoffs.

The 37-year-old Czech Republic native was relied on heavily after Fleury’s debacle, which is why he could very well start for the Pens in the opener.

We won’t know for sure until team activities begin, but my guess is they’ll give Fleury the start in the first game of the 2013-14 season.

Being that it is a new year — clean slate if you will — the organization is still going to utilize their former first overall draft choice.

They’ve invested in Fleury too much to give up on him entirely, and starting him will probably boost his psyche — hopefully.

 

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