No doubt about it, Tomas Vokoun’s ugly debut will steal much of the spotlight from the Washington Capitals’ 6-5 shootout win against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Capitals fans were quick to get on him – even handing out a “Bronx cheer” following a routine save in the third period – but Vokoun might be his biggest critic. He didn’t mince words while discussing a night in which he allowed five goals on 28 shots.
“It was probably my worst game in five years,” Vokoun said. “It just shows how strong this team is. They literally won tonight without goaltending.”
It was certainly up there, although he did make some big saves in overtime and during the shootout. Vokoun allowed five goals (again on 28 shots) in an October loss to the Ottawa Senators last season and had some bloopers in 2009-10.
The thing is, it’s doubtful that Vokoun was lit up on a larger stage with the Florida Panthers and it’s unlikely that even those performances made him look so bad. Combine those less-than-stellar optics with his far-from-firm grip on the Capitals’ starting job and it’s obvious that Vokoun needs to bounce back soon.
At least he’s not playing the role of an oblivious struggling goalie, though. Vokoun will likely face his fair share of tough nights in the playoffs, so this is a good dress rehearsal for that big-time pressure.
Give Vokoun credit for being frank about his struggles, but what really matters is how he responds to this first speed bump. Bruce Boudreau faces the tough choice of when, exactly, he gets to attempt that first rebound, though.