Penguins 2013-2014 Preview (Goaltending)

Buffalo Sabres v Pittsburgh Penguins

Will the Flower bloom once again, or will Vokoun have to take the wheel and lead the team to the promise land?

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Since the Pens were ousted in the Eastern Conference finals last June; many fans and experts have been asking the question¬†“Is Marc-Andre Fleury still a #1 net minder?”¬†Even after Dan Bylsma stated that Marc would be their number one goalie this upcoming season rumors still filled the web of him being traded.

While it is understandable to want him away from this team, especially during the Play Offs, Fleury has always proved to be a clutch regular season goalie averaging 35-42 wins a year. That is not something that can easily be replaced.

Tomas Vokoun whom everyone expected to take over as the go to guy this season has not won more than 30 games since the 2005-2006 season. A solid back-up he is, but a number one goalie could be a stretch. Unfortunately talking about Vokoun could be a moot point as he had to undergo a procedure to dissolve a blood clot in his pelvis late last week. Because of this he has been listed as “Out Indefinitely”

With so much concern already around Fleury, Vokoun’s uncertainty only adds to that.

So with Tomas out, in comes, at least for now, Jeff Zatkoff. A solid goaltender that has been labeled as a career AHLer.

Jeff Zatkoff
Games Played In49
Wins / Loses26 / 20
Goals Against Average1.93
Save Percentage.920
Shutouts5

Zatkoff had a career year last season when he led all goalies in the AHL with a 1.93 Goals against Average. The unfortunate fact though is, at the age of 26, he has no NHL experience at all.

It seems, as of today, that Zatkoff will be the back-up come October 3rd. Which after his solid performance in the preseason game against the Blackhawks, I feel he should do fine in a limited role.

I do expect, however, if it is believed that Vokoun will be out for a large portion of the season, I say more than 3 months, Ray Shero may look to free agency to solidify the position and take some of the work load off of the Flower. Players such as Ilya Bryzgalov, Johan “The Moose” Hedberg and Jose Theodore are options the Penguins may consider at some point down the line.

Fleury will be fine, and as long as Zatkoff sticks to his game or Vokoun comes back, I would expect this team to still be the favorites to win the Metropolitan Division and make a strong push in the Play Offs once again.

Robert Slavinsky

Pittsburgh Penguins writer for hockeytracker.net. Since my childhood I have followed hockey, from the years of The Great One up to The Next One I have followed the fastest sport on ice. Growing up in Pittsburgh PA, I have had the privilege to witness some of Hockey's Greats. Since the days of Le Magnifique no other team in Pittsburgh has mattered to me but the Penguins.

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