Pittsburgh Penguins’ goaltender Tomas Vokoun will reportedly be sidelined after undergoing surgery to repair a blood clot in his pelvis.
Vokoun is expected to be out indefinitely, and goaltender Jeff Zatkoff, who spent last season in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, is speculated to fill-in as his replacement.
This isn’t the first time the 37-year-old Vokoun has had a procedure to fix a blood clot.
While playing with the Nashville Predators during the 2005-06 season, Vokoun had what was called thrombophlebitis of the pelvis, which is described as a blood-clotting prognosis.
This is certainly a huge blow to Pens, as they were counting on Vokoun to handle a good amount of the workload this season, due to the peculiarity surrounding Marc-Andre Fleury’s game.
In 20 regular-season contests last season, Vokoun registered a 13-4-0 record, and he posted a 2.45 goals-against-average with a .919 save percentage. However, where he became most valuable was in the postseason.
Replacing the bewildered Fleury after various disastrous performances in the first-round against the New York Islanders, Vokoun went on to start 11 games for Pittsburgh, compiling a 2.01 goals-against-average and a .933 save percentage.
Zatkoff, who was named WBS’ team MVP last season, will be first in line to replace Vokoun, according to General Manager Ray Shero.
Selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the third-round (74th overall) of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, the 6-foot-2, 179-pound Zatkoff has yet to make an NHL start — but that could certainly change.
Leading the entire American Hockey League (AHL) with a 1.93 goals-against-average last season, the Detroit, Michigan native posted a 26-20-0 record, with an impressive .920 save percentage for WBS.
Although nothing is set in stone at the moment, all signs are pointing to Zatkoff winning the backup goalie gig, and he might receive more work than he probably anticipates.
Fleury, whose looked terrible during training camp and the preseason, is on thin-ice — no pun intended — and could see his starts dwindle should he continue letting more goals in than what’s normally surrendered.
As it looks right now, Pittsburgh is in trouble.
Not only are they going to heavily rely on their suspect goaltender Fleury, but they’re going to be counting on a guy who has never touched NHL ice in his career (Zatkoff). At least with Vokoun, the Pens had a seasoned veteran to provide solid depth, and now they don’t even have that.
So with all the troubles surrounding Pittsburgh’s inability to stop opposing teams from scoring, it looks like they’re going to have to work a little harder in preventing tallies — which makes the addition of Rob Scuderi on defense that much more important.
Zatkoff is expected to start in one of the last two preseason games.