What Tomas Vokoun’s absence will mean

Everyone knows about Vokoun's current situation involving the blood clot that was discovered in his thigh. If not, the bare bones of it is, well, there was a blood clot discovered in his thigh and he is out indefinitely.

Before anyone knew what was going on, Empty Netters was already on the case. Seth reminded everyone that this isn't the first time Vokoun has had blood clots. He had one at the end of the 2005-2006 season, and he wasn't cleared to start playing until July. If the Pens are looking at the same timeline, that means Vokoun won't be cleared to play until December, but that is extremely speculative.

This really puts the Penguins in a tough spot at the goalie position. Vokoun, as you may recall, became the starter in the playoffs last season.  And while everyone was down on Fleury, our thought on this season was the Penguins were going to be fine in net. If Fleury couldn't get himself together mentally, Vokoun was more than capable. The plan all along with signing Vokoun to a two-year deal was him being a security blanket. Hell, the Pens rode him to the ECF and probably to the SCF if the Pens had gotten a couple bounces.

Anyway, the security-blanket plan is hazy now, and the Penguins could really be in trouble.

And here is why

Here's how Fleury and his backup(s) split time in the three years prior to Vokoun's arrival:

Year Fleury's Game started Backup(s)
2009-2010 66 16
2010-2011 62 20
2011-2012 64 18

That is an average of 64 games, which comes out to 78%.

The backup goalie(s) started an average of 18 games, and that's clearly 22%.

And now here's how the time was split last season:

Year Fleury's Game Started Vokoun Game started
2012 33 17

Fleury's number of starts jumped down to 68% of the total number of games, which would have come out to 56 games played in an 82-game season. Even with the shortened season last year, Vokoun's number of starts basically equaled the number of starts backup goalies had been getting in an 82-game season. You can throw some of these numbers aside because the truncated schedule forced some coaches to go with backups more than they usually would, but MAF still wouldn't have reached his usual 78% workload.

Here are the number of wins the Pens' backup goalies have contributed over the past four seasons:

Year Games won by backups
2009-2010 10
2010-2011 13
2011-2012 9
2012-2013 13

Total of about 45 games won. Basically 11 games per season. As you can see, in the 48-game season last year, Vokoun had already matched the highest number of wins any backup had gotten in the four-year span.

The Pens have won a total of 183 games over the last four sseasons. That means roughly 25% of the Pens' wins have come when the backup goalie has started.  25%. That's one every four games. Nothing to shrug your shoulders at.

Further, that is about 22 points in the standings each season. The Pens' point totals in those four years without those 22 points:

Year Actual Points 22 points subtracted Would have finished
2009-2010 101 79 13th
2010-2011 106 84 11th
2011-2012 108 86 10th
2012-2013 72 50 10th

So if anyone tells you a backup goalie isn't important, you can show them this. Or show them a picture of Dany Sabourin.

Number of games played in the NHL by the next goalie in line: Jeff Zatkoff, 0.

Where to go from here

Shero was quoted as being ride-or-die with Zatkoff so we assume that is the plan. The Pens don't have the cap room to make any major moves, so it is a tough position. The word on Zatkoff is that he is solid, but that is what they said about Brad Thiessen. And the last time we saw him, his career was murdered in Vancouver.

Not a ton of goalies out there on the market:

God. A Moose sighting? One would imagine they will get a feel for Zatkoff and a timeline on Vokoun before doing anything crazy.