Tomas Vokoun as the Washington Capitals’ starting goalie is a new thing. But Vokoun as an NHL goalie is nothing new. Because of that, he knows the preseason routine and what he wants in terms of a workload.
“Personally, I think the more you play the better it is,” Vokoun said. “There’s no substitute for game situations. You can practice all you want, but it’s not the same speed, you don’t have the fouls like we do in the game. You want to play.”
Vokoun will start Friday night at the Chicago Blackhawks. How long? The veteran said that was “coach’s decision.”
“All I know is he’s starting,” coach Bruce Boudreau said. “I don’t know what the plan is as far as that – see how he feels. We’ll probably take it at least two periods.”
But there is still an adaptation, and Vokoun said he’s excited to “get a little feel” for his defensemen and their tendencies. Karl Alzner, John Carlson, Mike Green and Jeff Schultz are the Caps regular blue liners expected to be in the lineup.
It’ll take some work for the defensemen, too.
“I need to figure out how he likes to play. Some goalies want us to get in front of the puck and block everything, whereas others like to see everything,” Alzner said. “That’s just a little bit of a learning curve; that’s what these exhibition games are for.”
After Friday, there are still four preseason games left – meaning Dennis Wideman and Roman Hamrlik will get their chances to play in front on Vokoun. And he’ll be able to ease into this new – albeit familiar – role.
“Nothing’s adjusted right away, so it’s going to take some time,” Vokoun said. “That’s why I want to be part of as many games as I can.”
Jason Chimera left Friday’s morning skate after just a few minutes and was replaced in the group going to Chicago by Mattias Sjogren. But it should be no cause for alarm.
“It’s training camp, so he was just feeling a little off. So if he’s feeling off, get off. We brought extras,” Boudreau said. “He’ll be the first one to tell you: If it was the regular season, I’m playing. There’s no sense in dinking around with anything.”
With Friday’s cuts, the Caps are down to 22 forwards, four goalies and 12 defensemen, not counting Tom Poti.