Following the Capitals’ 5-2 loss to Ottawa, Coach Dale Hunter singled out goaltender Tomas Vokoun for criticism repeatedly. Even though several players acknowledged afterward that they gave up too much early in the game and found themselves chasing from behind, Hunter put forth a consistent message that Washington needed the veteran netminder to be better.
For his part, Vokoun didn’t disagree when asked to assess a performance against the Senators in which he allowed four goals on 11 shots.
“I didn’t play good, obviously,” Vokoun told reporters Thursday. “Fourth goal was a bad goal. I didn’t have much chance on the third one, I didn’t see it and it hit their guy in the foot and went right top shelf. Second one, it’s a breakaway.”
But Vokoun understands that with 22 games remaining there is precious little room for error, especially from him.
“It’s a desperate time in season. You’ve got to make saves. When you don’t make them, how did they go in? I’m the first one to be frustrated with that,” Vokoun said. “I’m not worried about what people say, it’s not a personal thing. I want to help the guys win and I certainly didn’t do that last game.”
Hunter didn’t back down from his postgame comments when asked about his take on Vokoun on Thursday. He reiterated that the Capitals “need Tomas to play well,” and that he believes the goaltender is better than what he showed in Ottawa.
Vokoun was out for practice with the rest of the team on Thursday and Hunter said he was glad to see him respond in a workmanlike manner to the criticism.
“I like his attitude, he doesn’t pout. If you pout you don’t get better, you don’t get your game going again. So he went out here, busted his tail and he’ll be good again,” said Hunter, adding that when the Capitals make mistakes they need Vokoun to be at his best. “We need some saves too. We broke down but [Ottawa] broke down too, we need some saves. He knows that.”