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Nashville's Vokoun will miss entire postseason

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Nashville goaltender Tomas Vokoun will
miss the final four games of the regular season and the entire
postseason because of a blood condition.

The 29-year-old Vokoun has not played since April 1, when he had
35 saves in a 2-1 victory over St. Louis. The Predators had been
listing Vokoun as day-to-day with a sore back, but general manager
David Poile said Monday that Vokoun has pelvic thrombophlebitis.

Poile said full recovery is expected, but Vokoun will be on
blood-thinning medication for several weeks.

Team doctors thought Vokoun had a back injury, but an MRI scan
on Friday found blood clots throughout his abdomen and pelvic area.
Vokoun was hospitalized immediately and put on blood thinning shots
and pills to reduce the clots.

"Since being diagnosed with this condition, Tomas has been hospitalized and is receiving medication and undergoing additional tests,"
said Poile in a statement released by the team. "His treatment, which includes blood-thinning medication, will prohibit him from playing hockey through the remainder of this season. He will continue to be monitored by Dr. (Michael) Pagnani and Dr. (Richard) Garman and we are hopeful that he will be discharged from Baptist Hospital in the next few days."

"Tomas had pain in his lower back after our game against St. Louis on April 1," Pagnani said in the same team statement. "After initial MRI tests of his back showed nothing to explain his back pain, further studies were performed that revealed blood clots located in veins in his lower abdomen. Tomas did not
sustain an injury to this area, and the tests have not revealed any definite cause for the blood clots."

"We feel very confident he is out of the danger zone,'' said Garman.

Vokoun is expected to leave the hospital within the next two
days. Garman said Vokoun is walking and talking in the hospital.

"Life must go on,'' Poile said. "This is a tough loss for our
team. He will be missed.''

"Let's not kid ourselves,'' forward Scott Walker said. "He's
probably the No. 1 reason we are where we are.''

Vokoun, the team's career leader in wins, had played in 61 of
the Predators' first 74 games with a record of 36-18-7. He was
9-4-2 since returning from the Olympics, where he helped the Czech
Republic win bronze. He has a 2.67 goals against average and a .919
save percentage.

That leaves the Predators leaning on Chris Mason, who is 8-5-1
with a 2.80 goals against average. His backup is Pekka Rinne, who
has appeared in only two NHL games.

"It's a real good opportunity for him and our team to make a
statement that, 'Hey, we're more than one player,' and I think
people tend to forget about that,'' Trotz said.

The Predators already have lost a franchise-record 260 man-games
to injuries this season. Losing the franchise's career leader in
wins is the biggest loss yet.

Clearly their most valuable player, the 29-year-old Vokoun
played in 61 of the Predators' first 74 games this season. He
ranked fifth in the NHL with a record of 36-18-7. He was 9-4-2
since returning from the Olympics, where he helped the Czech
Republic win bronze. He had a 2.67 goals against average and a .919
save percentage.

"We can't hide it,'' defenseman Kimmo Timonen said. "It's
huge. Losing a player like Tomas Vokoun, who's probably one of the
top three goalies in the world, you can't hide it. It's a big loss
for us.''

Poile said Vokoun was very disappointed and called this a tough
loss for the Predators. But his teammates will press on.

"We can't all of a sudden pack our tents up and go home,''
Walker said. "We have a guy who's quite capable of carrying us
deep into the playoffs. That's what we expect.''

That will be Mason, who is 8-5-1 with a 2.80 GAA. He is coming
off a shutout victory over St. Louis and a shootout win over
Chicago.

He watched as Vokoun helped the Predators take Detroit to six
games in their lone playoff series in 2004. Mason, who won a title
with Valerengen IF Oslo during last year's lockout, said he hadn't
played three straight games before this past week.

"I'm pretty confident in myself, especially with the guys here.
It's just a matter of ... getting on a roll and just keep going,''
Mason said.

Information from The Associated Press is included in this report.