Penguins notebook: Vokoun was told Tuesday about start

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BOSTON -- Tomas Vokoun was told by the Penguins Tuesday night that he would be starting in goal in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference final Wednesday against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden.

When that fact -- previously kept secret by coach Dan Bylsma -- surfaced after the team's game-day skate, Vokoun turned his thoughts to Marc-Andre Fleury, who was passed over for the Game 3 starting assignment.

"It would be really tough on Marc, coming in after such a long time," Vokoun said.

Fleury, 28, is a former first overall draft pick and the franchise goalie, but he was supplanted by Vokoun, 36, in Game 5 of the first round of the playoffs.

Vokoun has started every subsequent game -- Wednesday marked 10 in a row -- but he was pulled Monday in the first period of Game 2 after Boston scored three goals. Fleury, in relief, also allowed three goals that game in a 6-1 loss and admitted feeling "rusty." That's when the goaltending debate over who would start Game 3 heated up.

Some debate on visors

The NHL appears to be only a formality or two away from making protective visors mandatory. They apparently will be grandfathered in, so that players already in the league can decide whether to attach the clear shields to their helmets, but those entering the league will have to use them.

"I think it's smart," said Penguins defenseman Brooks Orpik, who, at 32, began wearing a visor late in the regular season, after New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal -- not wearing a shield -- got an eye injury when he got hit with a puck.

"You see so many instances now," Orpik said. "They polled all of us [in the NHL Players' Association], and I think 79 percent of the guys agreed with it.

"The more you see [eye injuries like] Marc Staal's, I think it makes a little more sense. Especially guys just coming up, they've always worn them. There's no reason to take them off."

Penguins rookie winger Beau Bennett wore a full-face cage in college and willingly switched to a visor when he turned pro, but he's not sure their use should be dictated.

"I'm really kind of indifferent -- kind of, whatever you feel, whatever you want to do," he said. "I saw that if you have more than 26 games played, you don't have to wear one, so I don't have to wear one, but I'll wear one my entire career.

"If doesn't bother you, it's for safety reasons and it's not a big deal to have one on."

In what apparently is the minority is Penguins veteran forward Craig Adams, who does not wear a shield and made it clear he did not vote in favor of making them mandatory.

"I think it should be the players' choice," Adams said. "It's always been the players' choice, and how hypocritical would it be of me to say, 'Well, I'm not going to wear one, but I'm going to make everyone else coming up wear one'?

"Maybe in 10 years everyone will look back and say how dumb we were for playing without visors, but, for me, it's been a personal decision, and I don't feel like I should tell anybody else that they have to do it."

Crowd no bother for Vokoun

The Penguins knew going into Game 3 that they would be facing a loud and hostile crowd at TD Garden. Vokoun, at least, didn't find that prospect the least bit daunting.

"As long as there's a good atmosphere, it doesn't matter if you're on the road," he said. "The toughest games are to be played when there's nobody in the stands and it's quiet.

"I never look up in the stands, so the cheering ... obviously, it's nice when you're home and, from a game-day perspective, it's nice that you're not in the hotel and stuff like that. But if there's a good atmosphere in the building, you should be ready to play."

Julien tries to keep it simple

Hockey is a pretty simple game, even though some coaches try to make it complicated.

Boston's Claude Julien insisted he is not one of them, and said the system he has developed for the Bruins is fairly basic, especially in the attacking zone.

"What we try and do is eliminate the gray areas, make it black and white, and it really is easy," he said. "This game shouldn't be a complicated one.

"Guys have skills, you try to put some structure together, but the one thing you don't take away is their ability to use their imagination and their skill and their hockey sense to make plays.

"Defensively is where you're extremely structured, and then you want to make sure ... that you have layers, and guys come back the way they should be positioned. But, when it comes to offense, a couple of rules, but the rest is about letting them do their job and let them use their creativity."

Is he normal or what?

Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask was hit with a high shot by a teammate in the morning skate and slammed his stick in frustration.

"He's fine," Julien said. "I told him, 'You're making me look bad. I told everybody you were normal.' But I did tell them he had a temper, so I said, 'OK. No issues.' "

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Shelly Anderson: shanderson@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1721 and Twitter @pgshelly. Dave Molinari: dmolinari@post-gazette.com and Twitter @MolinariPG.


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