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Countdown 6: In The Crease With Vokoun

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
The Panthers 2010-11 season is quickly approaching and with that, is taking a look at the top ten questions, players to watch and games of the season on a countdown to the home opener on October 16th against Tampa Bay. We'll unveil one of the top ten on a rotating basis each day to help fans get ready for what hopes to be an exciting season.

Tomas Vokoun #29 of the Florida Panthers stops a short handed shot on goal by Mike Richards #18 of the Philadelphia Flyers (Getty Images)
In today's topic, we take a closer look at goaltender Tomas Vokoun in the Top 10 Players To Watch this season.

In hockey there may be no more important of a position than the goaltender. It's there job to keep the team in it and sometimes singlehandly win games by turning away shot after shot.

For the Panthers, they're lucky enough to have one of the game's best. Tomas Vokoun has won 240 games while posting a .916 save percentage and a 2.56 goals against average. Since joining the Panthers for the 2007-08 season, he's turned away pucks 92.3% of the time.

The 2009-10 season was a trying season for Vokoun as it was the first time in seven seasons that he failed to reach the 25 win mark but he played a lot of hockey throughout, playing in 63 games for the Panthers and another 13 games for the Czech Republic in the Olympics in Vancouver and the World Championships in Germany.

"(It was) a lot of hockey," said Vokoun. "A lot of traveling last year with the Olympics and everything. After the season I went and traveled and played in the World Championships."

The World Championships was where Vokoun really rebounded into form, going 7-1 with a 1.57 goals against average and a .944 save percentage as he led the Czechs to a gold medal. To get that gold, they had to dispatch a star-studded Russia team. Vokoun turned aside 35 of 36 shots while stopping the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk in a 2-1 victory.

"We were huge underdogs coming into the tournament, and we almost didn't even make it to the playoff stage," Vokoun said following the stunner. "You always read about those great stories, and now it's happened to me."

Entering the season, the Panthers will need Vokoun to play the way he did in the Championships if they want to be successful. As the Panthers top netminder, he'll see a lot of action and hopefully that means more victories than last season.

"I always play as many games as the coach says I'm going to play," said Vokoun. "I'll approach game one the same as game 82 and if they tell me I'm playing that actual game, I'll prepare, and if I'm not playing, I'll prepare in case I have to play."
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