It sounds like it should be an easier life for Tomas Vokoun. He’s starting fewer games in his first season with the Washington Capitals. He’s seeing fewer shots in the games in appears in for the Caps. Less games and less shots sounds like it should make for the easiest campaign in Vokoun’s career, right?
Vokoun talked to Chuck Gormley of CSN Washington about the lighter workload this season. “It’s a little adjustment for me,” the veteran netminder said. “For the past 10 years I’ve been used to playing 65-plus games… Saying that, maybe it’s a good thing. I’m going on 36 (years old) and maybe I can focus more on the games and you don’t get as mentally tired.”
He’s shown over his first fifteen starts that he should be able to seamlessly make the transition. He is tied for fourth in the league with 10 wins already despite the talented Michal Neuvirth waiting in the wings. But if you ask the Caps (and Vokoun), Vokoun’s workload is only going to decrease as the season progresses.
The goaltending coach in Washington says that the adjustment isn’t so much the amount of starts this season, it’s the amount of shots that the Czech netminder sees in each appearance. In Florida and Nashville, he’d see plenty of action from the minute he stepped on the ice until the final horn. With the Caps possess-style game, Vokoun can expect to see fewer shots against on an average night. Unfortunately, when the opponent gets a shot on goal, it’s oftentimes a high quality scoring chance. Fewer shots on goal and a lot of Grade A scoring chances is not a great combination for a goaltender’s statistics.
But like any elite team, the only goaltending statistic that truly matters is wins. If he can come up with timely saves show up when the Caps need to lean on him, they’ll be happy with his performance—not matter what the statistics say.
So far, so good.
The Boston Bruins keep flipping the script.
In Wednesday’s case, it swerved to a “Cinderella” story, as little-known forward Frank Vatrano scored two of Boston’s three goals – including the overtime clincher – as the B’s beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 (OT).
Here’s his first goal of the night:
While this is his overtime game-winner:
It wasn’t a perfect night for the 21-year-old, yet it may have been a convincing one.
The Bruins continue to begin a month on a sour note before ending up with impressive sprees.
October: 0-3-0 start, finished month with four straight wins and victories in six of seven contests.
November: 0-3-0 start, losses in four of five; currently on a four-game winning strek with victories in five of six.
Boston faces a challenge in closing this month out against the Rangers on Friday, and it’s possible that this trend may continue, as they begin December with a three-game road trip through Western Canada.
More than anything else, the safest bet with the Bruins is for ups and downs.
Controversy just seems to find the Pittsburgh Penguins. Credit Sidney Crosby & Co. for responding with a win on Wednesday.
Crosby generated two pretty goals, including this slam-dunk slapper:
… While Evgeni Malkin‘s overtime-winner stood as the Penguins managed a 4-3 overtime win against the St. Louis Blues tonight.
(You can see Malkin’s OT-clincher in the video above this post.)
Will this win and strong performance from Crosby silence murmurs about his relationship with Mario Lemieux? Probably not, yet it likely turns the volume down in some ways, including killing the “Is he struggling because of distractions” storyline.
You know, at least for a little while. Maybe.
Claude Giroux isn’t the nastiest, most physical captain the Philadelphia Flyers have employed. Even so, he can be feisty at times.
Wednesday showed that, as he clearly wasn’t happy with an earlier Nick Leddy hit, and eventually got the New York Islanders defenseman to drop his gloves.
You can see the fight and the check that inspired that scrap in the video above.
It’s the fourth fight Giroux has been a part of, with his most recent adversary being may his most bitter rival.
Not a heavyweight bout between Giroux and Leddy, mind you, but sometimes it’s amusing to soak in such a rare sight.
Update: The fight may have inspired the Islanders more than the Flyers, as they bested Philly 3-1 on Wednesday.
Carter Hutton is getting something that might make fellow Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne jealous: goal support.
Still, there was at least one moment where Rinne was likely happy to be on the bench, as Hutton was left flipping during this collision with Buffalo Sabres forward Marcus Foligno:
Remarkably, Hutton remained in the game.
If you’re the type who loves adding to your “hockey players are tough” files, put this under the goalies section.
Check out this incredible shot of that moment:
Update: The Predators held off the Buffalo Sabres to win 3-2.