Photo by Doug Brumley
Predators goaltender Tomas Vokoun, seen here with head coach Barry Trotz during Jan. 3 practice, will start his second straight game tonight.
At Friday's morning skate, Tomas Vokoun was the first goaltender off the ice--an indication that he would be starting tonight's home game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. After the morning session, both Vokoun and Predators head coach Barry Trotz confirmed that Vokoun would be guarding the Nashville net tonight. It will be Vokoun's second straight start after returning to game action Tuesday night from a hand injury that kept him out of 20 games. Chris Mason, who performed so well in Vokoun's absence, is expected to start tomorrow night's game in Columbus.
Vokoun and Trotz responded to some questions on the topic this morning.
Q. You're starting your second game in a row tonight. Do you feel good about that and feel good after Tuesday night's game?
A. Obviously my game, my personal game [on Tuesday] wasn't at the highest level I would like it to be, but we won the game and the team played well. I got a chance to play. We have two games so [Mason and I] are going to split them. It's nice to play. Right now I'm just worried about trying to get back and kind of get my game to the level I would like to have it. I'm not worried about any stuff, I'm just waiting and when they tell me I play, I'm ready to play. In the meantime I'm trying to work hard in the practices and get my abilities to come back to mid-season form, as they say.
Q. Do you have any expectations or a sense of how long it will take you to regain that form?
A. It's hard to predict these things. It may take a short time, it may take--I don't really know. I've never been in this situation in my life before, in the middle of the season being hurt for seven weeks. The one thing I know is I'm doing the best I can to make it as smooth and as quick as possible.
Q. Are you getting more comfortable each day with the thumb splint and handling the stick?
A. Yeah, it's getting better. I'm getting used to it.
Q. What are your thoughts on Columbus tonight? It looks like they are missing a few of the prime goal-scorers (Rick Nash and Sergei Fedorov) but I'm sure you can't consider that when looking ahead to this game.
A. I don't look at lineups. I mean, before the game I look at who plays. But these things can be misleading sometimes. Teams play a lot more desperate when they don't have sometimes their best players. You can't take anything for granted in this league no matter what the circumstances are. It's going to be a tough game. It's always a high intensity game against them, being our division rival. So it's going to be another hard game tonight.
Predators head coach Barry Trotz
Q. Can you talk about the decision to go with Tomas Vokoun in goal again tonight?
A. It's pretty simple with me. We have to give Tomas some momentum and so you want to play him in a couple of games so he starts to feel a little rhythm, a little momentum. Because I think it's hard when you [alternate games]. Sometimes it's hard to get in a rhythm. So I wanted to come back after the Anaheim game with him tonight to sort of give him some rhythm. He knows how it feels after playing his first game. One of the things, if you talk to a goaltender, they'll play their first game in a long time and they'll say the next day that they are tired or they're exhausted. It's not physically exhausted. Just mentally because they have to concentrate on the whole game. They're trying to retrain that part of their game in terms of being able to focus and read and stay in the game and battle some fatigue and all that. He got that sort of out of the way, so I expect him to, every game he plays, to sort of always [be] a little bit better and he will. Because he's a veteran guy and he has a lot of confidence in himself and his abilities. In the end he's always a really good goaltender. We had to get that rust off last game and I give him a lot of praise. I was trying to talk him into playing [last] weekend, one of the games on the weekend, and he said, "No, I think I need until Tuesday." I said, "Well, you realize we're playing Anaheim on Tuesday." He said, "Yeah, I'm not scared of them. I want to be in." I think that shows a lot about Tomas. He doesn't shy away. I have known people who would shy away from certain opponents and he doesn't.