Panthers netminder Tomas Vokoun talks to the media after the morning skate in Atlanta. (Erin Brown: cbssports.com)
By Brian Goldman for floridapanthers.com
After an hour on-ice, laid back practice this morning, Panthers goaltender Tomas Vokoun walked off the ice, followed by the Islanders All-Star goaltender, Rick DiPietro. Both sat in the stalls normally taken up by Johan Hedberg and Kari Lehtonen of Atlanta. The two All-Star goaltenders began talking about the new shootout competition to take place tonight at the Dodge/NHL Super Skills tonight on Versus at 7:00 p.m.
“I might just move out of the way and let the shooters score tonight,” Vokoun joked with the media. “That way the shooters move doesn’t look as good.”
Vokoun will face some of the Western Conference’s best tonight at Phillips Arena in Atlanta. This is Vokoun’s second trip to an All-Star Game but first as a member of the Eastern Conference. For Vokoun, he could use some rest from playing in over 40 games already this season, but the Cats netminder is very happy to be in Atlanta.
“When you get selected, it’s an honor to come,” Vokoun said. “As a goalie I only play 20 minutes so it shouldn’t be too hard physically and mentally I am just trying to have fun. But it’s hectic. There is not that much time to hang out. All the time there is some function going on.”
While Vokoun will only play 20 minutes tomorrow and could even start the game with Martin Brodeur opting not to come for personal reasons, Panthers fans will be able to see a lot of Vokoun tonight.
Vokoun will be the goaltender during the second period tonight at the Youngstars Game. No youngstar goaltenders were invited so DiPietro will play a period and then Vokoun will play a period in the abbreviated two period showing of young talent tonight.
After that Vokoun will attempt to stop the Western Conference’s best in a shootout drill. Vokoun, who has four shootout wins this season, has a plan for winning again tonight.
“For tonight, you just don’t want to bite on the fake,” Vokoun said. “95% of shooters are successful if you go for the fake. I try to read the players speed and watch his shoulders.”
Growing up in the Czech Republic, Vokoun got to watch fellow countrymen Dominick Hasek play and go to many NHL All-Star Games. Tonight and tomorrow, Vokoun will get to showcase his talent, much like his idol has done many times before.