Tomas Vokoun to start Game 5 for Penguins over Marc-Andre Fleury

Vokoun had a .919 save percentage and 2.45 GAA this season. (USATSI)
Vokoun had a .919 save percentage and 2.45 GAA this season. (USATSI)

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In a move many believe the Pittsburgh Penguins had to make, Tomas Vokoun will start in Game 5 against the New York Islanders on Thursday.

Talking with the media Wednesday after the Penguins lost 6-4 at Long Island, coach Dan Bylsma made the announcement that Vokoun will get the go.

"We brought Tomas Vokoun in to play big games for us," Bylsma said. "He's done that for us and he's been very good vs. the Isles."

At this point I think you could call this a big game. The Penguins find themselves tied with the eighth-seeded Islanders with Game 5 in Pittsburgh looming. They have had a hard time against the upstart Isles, causing panic levels to rise in Pittsburgh.

The panic was rising mostly because the Penguins were having the same problems they had last year against the Flyers in the first round; the defending was poor and Marc-Andre Fleury was especially bad. He hasn't been any better this postseason.

In Game 4 Fleury gave up six goals including a couple that really had no business going in. In the two previous games he gave up four goals, a total of 14 in the past three games. It was easy to point to him as the biggest reason they are tied with the Isles.

It led to calls for his benching, including from Adam Gretz on Tuesday night. The Penguins are a team with Stanley Cup aspirations and they couldn't afford to go any longer with Fleury sinking their hopes. Goals like this just can't happen:

Unlike last season, though, now the Penguins have a solid option to fill in. As bad as Fleury was last year, Brent Johnson wasn't an upgrade, but Vokoun can be. He's been a starter for a long time in the NHL and has been good everywhere he's been. He is arguably one of the best backups in the league.

If the Penguins struggle a bit again in Game 5 and Vokoun doesn't get the job done, it's going to be really interesting to see how Bylsma reacts going forward. If Vokoun is solid, though, you have to imagine he's not going back to Fleury unless necessary.

Some will question what that will due to Fleury's confidence, but at this point the team has to do what it feels gives it the best chance to win. That's starting Vokoun.

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