Mar 27, 2011, 12:14 PM EDT
When discussing the Washington Capitals’ young, inexpensive and promising trio of goalies, many might fixate on their lack of a clear No. 1. If you ask me, though, having not two but three possible starters is up there with choosing between Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie on the list of “good problems to have.”
(Especially if you ask the options-challenged Detroit Red Wings, who face the disturbing possibility of resting their playoff hopes on the shoulders of Joey MacDonald if Jimmy Howard and Chris Osgood cannot get healthy. Yikes. Hopefully Howard is only day-to-day as the Red Wings claim … )
For those impatient types who want an immediate idea of which goalie might be the starter – or at least which two are most likely – there might be a temporary answer. The team announced that they sent Braden Holtby to the minors today, even though he just earned a shutout in the team’s 2-0 win against the Montreal Canadiens.
Holtby currently sports the team’s best numbers, although it appears that smaller sample sizes benefited the numbers of Holtby and Semyon Varlamov against Michal Neuvirth. Here’s a quick rundown of the goalies’ stats, beginning with Neuvirth.
Neuvirth: 24-11-4 in 44 games played with 41 starts, 2.46 Goals Against Average, 91.5 save percentage and four shutouts.
Varlamov: 10-9-4 in 25 games played with 23 starts, 2.26 GAA, 92.3 save percentage and two shutouts.
Holtby: 10-2-2 in 14 games played with 12 starts, 1.79 GAA, 93.4 save percentage and two shutouts.
Anyway you slice it, all three goalies have been getting the job done for Washington. Neuvirth’s numbers aren’t as sexy, but both Varlamov and Holtby likely benefit from those aforementioned smaller sample sizes. Varlamov’s record is a bit mediocre, but his individual stats indicate that he plays well when healthy. Holtby’s numbers are off the charts in every area, creating a dilemma – albeit a tantalizingly promising one – for the Capitals.
Ultimately, the Caps are probably wise in going with Neuvirth and Varlamov for now. Varlamov has some playoff experience and came into the season as the top guy while Neuvirth has been a rock for them while Varly dealt with injury problems. If one or both of those two look shaky, the Capitals can easily call up Holtby and feel comfortable giving him a shot.
Sure, it makes things more complicated to have three choices versus one, but would you rather take the injury and inconsistency risks of relying on one guy or would you rather worry about making the right choice between two or three? Looking at recent trends, there are only a few “sure things” in net so if you ask me, having plenty of options is the best way to go.
It might cause coach Bruce Boudreau to reach for the antacids, but considering his love of ice cream and other treats, he’s probably not afraid of such a fate. In all seriousness, this might be the perfect challenge for Boudreau, who is doing an excellent job teaching this team to have a narrow mind for one thing: playoff success.
Even if it’s unclear which goalie they’ll try to ride to such success just yet.
Apr 17, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT
Two teams meeting for the third time in the playoffs.
Apr 17, 2014, 2:08 PM EDT
Just in case you don’t recognize them tonight.
Apr 17, 2014, 1:01 PM EDT
“You definitely want to be physical on him.”
Apr 17, 2014, 12:41 PM EDT
Game 1 gets underway at Scottrade at 8 p.m. ET (on NBCSN).
Apr 17, 2014, 11:57 AM EDT
Classic rivalry will get underway tonight at Scottrade.
Apr 17, 2014, 11:50 AM EDT
Even though they’re not really underdogs.
Apr 17, 2014, 11:44 AM EDT
Apr 17, 2014, 11:02 AM EDT
Both teams bounced back from bad starts to make the playoffs.
Apr 17, 2014, 11:02 AM EDT
Matt Duchene is already on the shelf.
Apr 17, 2014, 10:33 AM EDT
Apr 17, 2014, 9:53 AM EDT
It’s a motivation thing.
Apr 17, 2014, 9:25 AM EDT
He had eight points in 19 games with New York.
Apr 17, 2014, 8:25 AM EDT
New York, St. Louis, Denver, and San Jose is where it’s at tonight.
Apr 17, 2014, 1:19 AM EDT
A Tyler Seguin bullet, no less.
Apr 17, 2014, 1:08 AM EDT
A tale of two games, really.
Apr 17, 2014, 12:52 AM EDT
“We did it time and time again.”
Apr 17, 2014, 12:26 AM EDT
“It’s one that got by him.”
Apr 17, 2014, 12:03 AM EDT
The trio was big in Wednesday’s Game 1 victory over the Jackets.
Apr 16, 2014, 11:23 PM EDT
It’s bad enough to inspire Jon Cooper’s pity, though.
Apr 16, 2014, 10:59 PM EDT
“We aren’t here just to go to school. We’re here to win.”
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