The Workhorse Movement

Justin Goldman

2009-02-23

 vokoun

 

My week was already ruined when Nikolai Khabibulin went down with an injury, so Ryan Miller’s high ankle sprain was like sticking a rusty nail in a festering wound that probably wasn’t going to heal anyways. Boy, it sure is tough to find a goalie that can play so many games down the stretch and still produce dazzling consistent performances.

 

And then I realize, “wait, you old coot, there’s actually a ton of goalies right now playing out of their gourds, while still acting as true workhorses for their teams!” Those would be the Kiprusoff’s, Turco’s and Luongo’s of the league. But beyond the well-known durable goalie stars, there are two others that silently have continued the workhorse movement – the wise and experienced Dwayne Roloson and Tomas Vokoun.

Vokoun’s fiery run in February continued over the weekend with a 41-save shutout over the Boston Bruins. That was his 18th start in 20 games, proving Florida’s not-so-secret plan is to start him in every single game he’s capable of starting. That’s pretty much all of them, so don’t be surprised if Anderson’s day dreaming about playing for another team next season. We all know that Anderson won’t stand for sitting on the bench, but with Vokoun on absolute fire, it looks like Anderson’s stuck dealing with it. Even if Vokoun has an off night or suffers a loss, the team isn’t looking down the bench to switch goalies, which is a stark difference from Florida’s plan back in November and December.

Vokoun and Anderson remind me of John Vanbiesbrouck and Mark Fitzpatrick back in the 1995-96 season. They were arguably the best 1-2 punch in the entire league, as they both posted similar statistics and pushed the Panthers into the Stanley Cup Finals. In fact, Beezer would tell you that he played the best hockey of his entire career the final six weeks of the regular season and into the finals against Colorado.

So can history repeat itself in March and April for Florida? Vokoun has three shutouts in ten days and a total of six this season. He faces a ton of shots due to Florida’s offensive system and therefore has a scintillating .927 save percentage, yet still flies under the radar because of early-season inconsistency. Now he’s playing like one of the best goalies in the league and proving something that is being mirrored in the Western Conference by Roloson.

Roloson has started 15 straight games for Edmonton since Mathieu Garon was traded in mid-January. Albeit he hasn’t posted the same spectacular stats as Vokoun, he has embraced the fact that he’s known more for his work et