Vokoun adjusts to fewer starts

Vokoun adjusts to fewer starts
November 25, 2011, 10:10 pm

In his previous eight seasons with the Nashville Predators and Florida Panthers, Capitals goaltender Tomas Vokoun played in 495 games, averaging 62 appearances a season.

And although Vokoun is on a similar pace this season with 16 appearances in the Capitals first 21 games, he anticipates his workload decreasing with the continued development of Michal Neuvirth.

Its a little adjustment for me, said Vokoun, who sat out Fridays game against the New York Rangers. For the past 10 years Ive been used to playing 65-plus games.

Saying that, maybe its a good thing. Im going on 36 (years old) and maybe I can focus more on the games and you dont get as mentally tired.

Vokoun is expected to return to the nets Saturday night in Buffalo when the Capitals visit the Sabres. He enters the weekend ranked fourth in the NHL with a 10-4-0 record, along with a 2.66 GAA and .910 save percentage.

Capitals goaltending coach Dave Prior said the biggest adjustment for Vokoun this season has not been his number of starts but the amount of rubber he has seen. Vokoun has seen at least 1,700 shots in seven of his last eight seasons.

This season, hes on pace to see less than 1,500 shots and has seen an average of just 25 shots in his 16 appearances.

Hes not used to being idle for long stretches, Prior said. With Florida he would see more games, but hed also see more shots. He could get settled into a game.

Here, we control the puck more and he doesnt see as many shots. But when he does it seems to be a lot of breakaways and 2-on-1s and that can be harder for a goaltender.

Vokoun said hes not quite sure which direction the Capitals are heading with their goaltending rotation but understands the need to develop Neuvirth, who is 23, and 22-year-old prospect Braden Holtby, who enters the weekend 4-4-1 with a 2.78 GAA and .888 save percentage.

Well see, Vokoun said. I dont think they have a plan (in place). Theyre just kind of throwing us in as they feel. Well decide that with our play, too. Im certainly one of the guys that could have been playing better when we went through that rough spot.

Im here to stop the puck and when you dont stop it, you feel bad because youre supposed to be a difference maker and youre not making a difference.