Tomas Vokoun is excited — and, yes, a little nervous — to be making his first playoff appearance since 2007.
Pittsburgh’s 36-year-old backup goalie will start Game 5 tonight at home versus the Islanders; he’ll replace Marc-Andre Fleury, who struggled in Game 4’s 6-4 loss that evened the series at two games apiece.
“For me, I’m going to enjoy it,” Vokoun said Thursday morning, per NHL.com. “I wasn’t sure I was ever going to get the chance to play again in playoffs. It’s nice to have the chance. You play hockey to be in this moment. You don’t play hockey to go for morning skate, take shots and do that.
“Everybody is nervous; you wouldn’t be human if you weren’t. But I’ve played long enough and been through a lot, and hopefully that will pull me through.”
The pressure is squarely on the Penguins — one of the Stanley Cup favorites — to beat the underdog Isles tonight. If they lose, they face the prospect of a first-round elimination game on the road, and in a very hostile environment.
PHT Extra: Is starting Vokoun the right call?
Following his stunning 41-game suspension, it looks like Raffi Torres has at least one former teammate in his corner.
We haven’t yet seen how the San Jose Sharks or the NHLPA are reacting to the league’s hammer-dropping decision to punish Torres for his Torres-like hit on Jakob Silfverberg, but Jason Demers decided to put in a good word for Torres tonight.
It was a simple message: “#FreeTorres.”
Demers, now of the Dallas Stars, was once with Torres and the Sharks. (In case this post’s main image didn’t make that clear enough already.)
Perhaps this will become “a thing” at some point.
So far, it seems like it’s instead “a thing (that people are making fun of).”
… You get the idea.
The bottom line is that there are some who either a) blindly support Torres because they’re Sharks fans or b) simply think that the punishment was excessive.
The most important statement came from the Department of Player Safety, though.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.