Following Saturday's morning skate at the Gaylord Entertainment Center, the Nashville Predators updated the status of goaltender Tomas Vokoun. Vokoun, who started Thursday night's game against the Vancouver Canucks, did not return for the third period due to a hand injury. Saturday, general manager David Poile revealed specifics.
"Tomas is going to have an operation on his thumb of his blocker hand," Predators general manager David Poile said outside the Predators locker room. "He tore the ligament on that and is going to be out, the doctor says, at a maximum of six weeks. There is a possibility--and we hope a good possibility--that after the operation and after the swelling and the pain goes down after say two weeks, that he could be fitted for a very light cast on his thumb where he can grip the stick and be able to play. But we'll have to see how that is after a couple of weeks."
The operation is scheduled to be performed Monday by hand specialist Dr. Phil Coogan. Goaltender Karl Goehring was recalled from Nashville's minor-league affiliate in Milwaukee on Friday to back up goaltender Chris Mason. The workload for Mason, who temporarily took over the No. 1 role late last spring when Vokoun's season was ended by a blood condition, will now increase significantly, according to head coach Barry Trotz.
"Obviously I don't know much about Karl Goehring," Trotz said Saturday. "This is the first year we've had him. [Mason] is going to play all the games. Karl will only come in in a backup situation at this point. Our schedule is not bad. We have a couple back-to-backs, but there's not a big trip."
"In the bigger picture this is a huge opportunity for Chris Mason," Poile said. "Last time he had this opportunity was at the end of last season and he played very well and got to play in his first NHL experience in the playoffs. I think if you were to talk to our players or our coaches, I don't think that they feel this is going to be a problem for our hockey club."
As for Mason, he's looking forward to the more prominent role. He laments that it comes at the expense of an injury to someone else--especially his friend Vokoun. Mason said Saturday that he's not feeling too much added pressure.
"It's the same thing as last year," Mason said. "I think everybody else makes maybe a bigger deal [about it] than I do. That's part of it. Everybody always speculates, 'Well, what's going to happen now?' and this and that. Coaches might think stuff too a little bit. I try to come and prepare like I'm going to play every day anyway. Obviously it's a good opportunity to play some games in a row.
"I just want to help the team, just kind of step in and keep things going here. We're going pretty good. Hopefully we can just carry on for tonight and the next few games."