The Penguins are in an uncomfortable spot at the NHL's most important position. Marc-Andre Fleury — the franchise goalie who was benched because of ineffectiveness in the Stanley Cup playoffs and is coming off management's mandated sessions with a sports psychologist — suddenly is the franchise's lone proven goalie. Tomas Vokoun star of the Penguins' playoff run is out indefinitely after surgery Saturday to dissolve a blood clot. Coach Dan Bylsma said Sunday he did not expect to have much of an update on Vokoun for “the next few days.” Bylsma also acknowledged that Vokoun's injury had changed the goaltending situation. “If the backup goalie is Jeff Zatkoff it would be different how many games Marc would play in which games and in terms of how we schedule” Bylsma said. Zatkoff 26 spent last season as the starter for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton but he has never played in the NHL. The Penguins have 13 games in October none on back-to-back nights. Five including the Oct. 3 home opener against New Jersey feature division opponents. Eight are at home. Fleury coming off his fourth consecutive postseason with a sub-.900 save percentage has registered a .829 save percentage over five periods in two exhibition games. Bylsma described Fleury as “OK” to this point in training camp. He added that Fleury's performance was consistent with previous camps which led into four seasons over which Fleury paced all goalies in victories. “It's training camp” Bylsma said. “There's a process for every player getting into game shape and going through practice.” Bylsma has seen Zatkoff only in practice so any confidence in his for-now No. 2 goalie stems from insight provided by goaltender coach Mike Bales who worked with Zatkoff with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton last season. Zatkoff is a veteran of 200 professional games but his lack of NHL experience is a reason general manager Ray Shero could seek a veteran goalie in Vokoun's absence. Identifying capable candidates will prove less challenging than getting one onto the roster while also making the Penguins salary-cap compliant by next Monday when regular-season rosters must be set. The Penguins' plan was to reassign defenseman Simon Despres to AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. His cap hit ($840000) would have just about made the team cap compliant and because he is on an entry-level contract Despres need not clear waivers to play in the AHL.
Penguins' situation at the goaltender spot is appearing bleak
Pittsburgh Tribune Review | Sep 23