All-Star Tomas Vokoun will be back in goal this evening when the Panthers play host at BankAtlantic Center to the Islanders.
“He’s our guy,” said coach Peter DeBoer after Saturday’s morning skate of Vokoun. “I’m sure he’ll be ready.”
Vokoun was replaced by Craig Anderson for the third period of Thursday’s 6-2 loss. But DeBoer made it clear that Vokoun wasn’t the reason for the setback.
“You just can’t pin that on him,” DeBoer said. “We have some breakdowns. We had a good first period, got down 2-0, and didn’t handle that adversity as a group, and (Vokoun) was one of those guys that was part of the group that didn’t handle it well.”
As far as sitting him for the third period, DeBoer said; “At that point in the game, Anderson hadn’t played yet and we wanted to give him some minutes and give (Vokoun) a rest and get him ready for tonight.”
DeBoer said the team met to discuss Thursday’s loss and “it’s important to learn from it and move on.”
“If you start dwelling on bad periods, bad games, this early in the year it snowballs. I think everyone knows what went right and what went wrong last game and I think we’ll be ready tonight.”
DeBoer said he’ll dress the same lineup as Thursday, with Wade Belak and Kamil Kreps in the lineup and Anthony Stewart and Michael Frolik sitting out.
Although Frolik and Stewart have played only one game each, DeBoer said that doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t become regulars in the lineup.
“From a coaching perspective it should create some desperation with our forwards,” DeBoer said. “We’re giving the veterans some opportunity early, we’re three, four games into the season. Guys have to produce. Other guys are looking to jump into the lineup and Michael and Stewy are capable I know to jump in and give us some energy.”
On whether it would be a greater benefit for Frolik to play each night in the American Hockey League, DeBoer mused; “I think it’s too early to say he’s not going to play.”
“If we get to the quarter mark of the season and he’s not playing then, obviously, you start to weigh whether it’s detrimental to his development,” he added. “But this early, he’s learning about the NHL. He’s learning what it takes, he’s on the ice every day with NHL players, and I think it’s beneficial.”