by Joe Tasca on 05/07/13 at 10:00 PM ET
Tom Rock offers some much-needed consolation to Marc-Andre Fleury:
Fleury can take solace that this first-round performance is not as abysmal as last year's when he melted down against the Flyers and allowed 26 goals in six games. But it's close. Take away his shutout in Game 1 and he's allowed 14 goals in three games, more than the pace as last year's skid.
That performance was one of the reasons the Penguins traded for Tomas Vokoun to be Fleury's backup this season. Vokoun played well in the regular season, winning 13 of his 20 starts, but has yet to see the ice in the playoffs.
That's going to change on Thursday. Dan Bylsma simply doesn't have a choice. Pittsburgh is built for a Stanley Cup run, and Bylsma simply can't take the risk of Fleury laying another egg in Game 5. The coach gave his goaltender an opportunity to get off the mat with a strong performance tonight, but that didn't happen. Unfortunately for the Flower, the clock has struck twelve.
Adam Gretz explains why Bylsma has to revert to Plan B:
You don't pay a backup goalie what the Penguins are paying Vokoun if turning to him in a situation like this isn't a legitimate option. And if you're not going to turn to him now, when will you? Time is running out in the series and if the Penguins wait any longer it might be too late.
Running Fleury back out into the crease in Game 5 on Thursday night after the way he's played in this series (and in his previous three playoff series) would be nothing more than putting your head down and continuing to ram it into a brick wall hoping for something to finally change.
What's lost in all of this is the fact that Evgeni Nabokov has played just as pitifully in this series as his Penguin counterpart. He's given up 16 goals in four games, and is showing some serious signs of fatigue. The only reason Fleury's poor showing has been the story of the series is because Pittsburgh was the odds-on Stanley Cup favorite heading into the playoffs. But the fact is Nabokov has been just as horrendous, and shouldn't inspire much confidence for long-suffering Islander fans.
With that said, the poor goaltending at both sides of the rink has been just one highlight of what has been an incredibly exciting series. This matchup has featured constant lead changes, huge momentum swings, and long stretches of helter-skelter play. As a hockey fan, there's nothing better than watching a game in which it feels like any given shot could dent the twine. It's an incredibly rare occurance in today's game.
Let's enjoy it.
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About Tasca's Take
Tasca's Take is written by Joe Tasca. Born and raised in Westerly, Rhode Island, Joe works as a broadcaster for seven radio stations in southern New England. Whether that's a testament to his on-air ability or because he has a desparate need for money is debatable.
Joe spends his summers playing golf, enjoying the beauty of Misquamicut Beach, and wining and dining girls who are easily awed by the mere presence of a radio personality. During the winter months, he can usually be found taking in a hockey game somewhere in North America. In the spring, he spends much of his time in botanical gardens tiptoeing through the tulips, while autumn is a time to frolic with his golden retrievers through piles of his neighbors’ leaves.