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Poll: Should Pens start Fleury or Vokoun in Game 3?

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It’s easy to say what you would do if you were in a head coach’s shoes. It’s also pretty fun because you aren’t likely to lose your job if you’re wrong.

Ultimately, it’s Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma’s job to determine a Game 3 starter after Tomas Vokoun and Marc-Andre Fleury combined for a disastrous Game 2 against the Boston Bruins on Monday. We’ll see if he tips his hand tonight, but either way, let’s find out what the people think.

Decide if you’re on Team Fleury or Team Vokoun in the poll below. (Sorry, we’re going to leave out other netminders in the Penguins system to keep it simple.)

Update: As expected, Bylsma didn’t give an obvious answer about which way he’s leaning

“I don’t think there was a lot of fault in those three goals by the goaltender,” Bylsma said. “So it’s tough to evaluate given the breakdowns and the type of scoring chances that they scored on for both goalies.”

Video: First shot beats Marc-Andre Fleury

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Sometimes, changing a goalie can be a wise move even if a deficit isn’t just that netminder’s fault. There are occasional instances that the trailing team turns things around, whether it be mere coincidence or as a reaction to the swap.

It seemed like the Pittsburgh Penguins might just enjoy the jolt that came with replacing Tomas Vokoun with Marc-Andre Fleury, as Brandon Sutter gave them some immediate hope by cutting the Boston Bruins’ lead to 3-1:

As it turns out, that momentum shift appeared short-lived, as Brad Marchand did the same thing to “The Flower” as he did to Vokoun: scoring a goal on the first shot that netminder faced:

The Penguins face quite the conundrum, eh?

Fleury: Quick will be ‘fine’ after getting pulled

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Marc-Andre Fleury knows what it’s like to be replaced in goal.

As such, he’s a good person to ask about Jonathan Quick.

Quick, who was yanked for the first time this postseason in Sunday’s 4-2 Game 2 loss to Chicago, gave up four goals for the first time in 34 postseason games and was replaced by Jonathan Bernier.

It’s something Fleury doesn’t expect to happen again in Game 3.

“[Quick] has had a terrific playoffs,” Fleury told the Chicago Tribune. “Chicago’s a tough team, dangerous team. They have so much offensive power, power up front.

“It happens, but I’m sure he’ll be fine next game.”

Fleury lasted just four games this postseason before he was pulled in favor of Thomas Vokoun.

The 28-year-old spent most of the year as Pittsburgh’s No. 1 goalie but, after allowing 14 goals in Games 2-4 against the Islanders and losing two of three, he was dumped in favor of the veteran Czech netminder.

Fleury has handled the demotion well.

Last week, he said he was “trying not to think about” his future with the Penguins, opting rather to focus on the present and being the best backup possible.

In speaking with the Tribune, he added he has a good working relationship with Vokoun and ignores chatter of a goaltending controversy.

“I don’t read the media speculation, so that helps,” Fleury said. “It’s not about me. It’s about the team, and the team’s been winning, been good.

“And Vokoun’s been good, so I work hard in practice, trying to stay sharp.”

Fleury ‘trying not to think about’ his future in Pittsburgh

Marc Andre Fleury
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Resigned to a backup role behind Tomas Vokoun, Marc-Andre Fleury says he’s only thinking about the present.

Mostly because he doesn’t want to think about the future.

That’s what the Penguins goalie told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Wednesday, suggesting his future is Pittsburgh is cloudy at best.

“I’m trying not to think about it,” Fleury said. “I don’t want to think about it.”

The numbers on Fleury don’t look good. He’s 28, with two years remaining on a seven-year, $35 million deal that carries a $5 million annual cap hit.

His playoff stats this year (2-2, .891 save percentage, 3.40 GAA) and last (2-4, .834 save percentage, 4.63 GAA) are incredibly concerning.

He plays on a team that has two huge contractual decisions to make after 2013-14 — UFAs Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang — and plays for a GM, Ray Shero, that has two compliance buyouts at his disposal.

So, what does it all mean?

The Pens don’t have any real goaltending prospects in the system.

They selected OHL Sault Ste. Marie netminder Matt Murray in the third round of the 2012 draft, and do have Jeff Zatkoff and Brad Thiessen with AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, where they won the Harry “Hap” Holmes trophy this year for fewest goals allowed.

But Zatkoff and Thiessen are 25 and 27, respectively.

Vokoun, obviously, is not Pittsburgh’s long-term solution in goal. He’s a 36-year-old journeyman that’ll be a free agent after 2014.

And, according to the Tribune-Review, there’s a slight chance he might not be the short-term solution either:

Coach Dan Bylsma has consistently declined to publicly commit to Vokoun, who has gone 6-1-1 on the strength of a .941 save percentage and 1.85 goals-against average.

Earlier this week, Bylsma appeared to plant a seed for The Flower to again bloom for the Penguins.

“He’s been practicing extremely well, and I think he’s ready to go in there and stop the puck when he gets that chance, when he gets that opportunity,” Bylsma said of Fleury on Monday.

Whatever the case, it promises to be an interesting summer when it comes to Pittsburgh’s crease conundrum.

Crosby says Pens have confidence in Fleury

Isles score on Fleury
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We can hear the rebuttals already — Well, what else is he supposed to say? That Marc-Andre Fleury is terrible and Tomas Vokoun should definitely start Game 5?

And while that particularly rebuttal may, in fact, have merit, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby still came out in support of his team’s embattled starting goalie the day after Fleury allowed six goals on 24 shots in a 6-4 loss to the Islanders.

“Our confidence (in him) is there,” said Crosby, per WDVE’s Mike Prisuta. “He’s won a Stanley Cup. He’s shown numerous times he can bounce back.”

But will Fleury be given the opportunity in Game 5 to show he can bounce back? The 28-year-old has given up 14 goals — a number of them questionable — in the last three games, and the Pens have a capable backup in veteran Tomas Vokoun.

Fleury also struggled badly in last year’s first-round loss to the Flyers.

Related: Columnist says Pens must start Vokoun in Game 5