PITTSBURGH — What does Penguins coach Dan Bylsma do now?
He went with Tomas Vokoun in goal for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final against the Bruins Saturday night at Consol Energy Center. The result? A 3-0 loss. Granted, Vokoun’s teammates did little to help the netminder fend off Boston’s attack so it was no surprise when Vokoun also got the start in Monday night’s Game 2.
But after giving up three goals on 12 shots in 16 minutes, 31 seconds, Bylsma went to the bench and brought in Marc-Andre Fleury to try to stop the bleeding.
Fleury wound up surrendering three goals on 17 shots as the Bruins clobbered the Penguins, 6-1, to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
As expected, Bylsma was noncommittal on his choice for Game 3. Realistically, there were so many other problems with his team that were much more glaring than goaltender.
“It’s tough,’’ said Bylsma. “We got down, 3-0, and I don’t think there was a lot of fault in those three goals by the goaltender so it’s tough to evaluate given the breakdowns and the type of scoring chances that they scored on for both goaltenders.’’
So how do you decide? Roll the dice? Flip a coin? Sleep on it? Play rock, paper, scissors?
“Everyone we put on the ice for Game 3 is going to be giving us the best chance to win the hockey game,’’ said Bylsma.
Vokoun said it hasn’t been an easy couple of outings against Boston.
“Every time we beat them this year [in the regular season], it was a tight-checking game,’’ said Vokoun. “Like we were going to win, 1-0, or 2-0 mentality. We just didn’t do as good of a job staying focused under adversity during the game today.’’
He said the adjustments that need to be made have everything to do with how they are thinking about the games.
“We’ve got to change our mind-set, we’ve got to play a different game,’’ Vokoun said. “We still, no matter what happens, stay focused on our game plan and that means we have to play it for 60 minutes. Unfortunately, we gave up the first goal both games and from there, everyone is trying to do it on their own and it’s just not going to work.’’
Vokoun said he wasn’t surprised when he was yanked because the Penguins dug themselves such a deep hole so early.
“Not really, I’m sure the coaches wanted to change the momentum,’’ he said. “I didn’t feel they were bad goals but you’re there to stop the puck and when you’re not stopping it, they’re going to make the change. It’s part of being a goalie. Sometimes that happens.’’
Like any goalie in the playoffs, Vokoun would appreciate the chance to salvage the series with a start in Game 3 but he said that is out of his hands.
Fleury, who hadn’t played since the fourth game of the first-round series against the Islanders, believes in his teammates.
“We’re definitely not where we want to be but we’ve got a lot of experience in the room and I know a lot of guys have been down in a series before so we have to put those two [games] behind and be ready for the third game,’’ he said.
When asked what the Bruins were doing to make it so tough on both goalies, Fleury said Boston has been applying a lot of pressure in the Pittsburgh zone.
“They’re a good team, they move the puck well,’’ said Fleury. “They throw the puck on net and go there and crash it. Sometimes we get maybe a little scrambly around and that gives them open guys around the net and it’s costly.’’
Bylsma knows he hasn’t gotten the best out of anyone on his team yet.
“We certainly didn’t play anywhere near where we are capable of,’’ said the coach. “And that’s got to be our focus to win Game 3 in Boston.’’
Nancy Marrapese-Burrell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.