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No controversy? Caps to give Neuvirth fourth start in a row

Jan 28, 2013, 10:52 PM EDT

michalneuvirthgetty Getty Images

At the moment, it seems like Michal Neuvirth is the Washington Capitals’ go-to guy in net.

After Braden Holtby, 23, made two ugly early season games, the Washington Times reports that Neuvirth will receive his fourth consecutive start when the Caps face the Senators in Ottawa on Tuesday.

Seeing the 24-year-old Czech steal the top job for the moment serves as a surprise for some, but it appears that Washington goalie coach Dave Prior hasn’t been caught off guard.

“I get a little defensive on his behalf when people are sort of surprised [by Neuvirth],” Prior said. “His success in the playoffs at the junior and minor league level [shows] he’s got a head on his shoulders that handles pressure well. I’m not surprised how he’s played here.”

The Times article describes Neuvirth’s “quiet confidence,” although he piped up about his competition in net during the off-season, indicating that Holtby isn’t at the same level of prior goalies such as Tomas Vokoun and Semyon Varlamov. He also stood alongside teammate Roman Hamrlik, who made some controversial comments during the lockout.

If there is any lingering bitterness from those comments, it’s not showing enough to pry Neuvirth out of Washington’s net. We’ll see if it stays that way, though.

  1. ravenscaps48 - Jan 28, 2013 at 10:57 PM

    And why should there be controversy? Adam Oates clearly stated that Holtby will start game one, then ride the hot hand in net… Neuvy has been lights out, keep it going.

    • govtminion - Jan 28, 2013 at 11:19 PM

      Pretty much, yeah. As so many teams have done in the past, ‘ride the hot hand’. I can’t think of any reason to switch back as long as Neuvirth is doing the job better. I will be interested to see how they handle back-to-back night situations though, and whether or not that gives Holtby the chance to sneak back into the rotation again.

      • dcfan4life - Jan 29, 2013 at 1:23 AM

        Even if Neuvirth is amazing this season, I still see Holtby playing plenty. And since Oates will ride the hot hand it can still be a 50/50 split. But with so many back to back games and 3 games in 4 nights, we will see both goalies a lot. For now i agree, ride the hot hand. No change is needed until he is overworked or struggles.

    • hockeywithdrawal - Jan 29, 2013 at 8:00 AM

      Any concerns about Holtby’s confidence suffering on this? Both are great young goalies. Clearly Holtby either wasn’t ready or the entire defense collapsed in front on him (his save % isn’t much worse than Neuvirth’s right now). I do understand needing to get into the points race and going with the hot hand….can’t fall too far behind.

      When do you take the chance and give him another try? I can’t see it being good developmentally to leave him sit and stew on those first two games.

      • jpelle82 - Jan 29, 2013 at 10:30 AM

        his confidence was probably shook from day one. when your coach says publicly that you get the start only because you earned it from last year, puts some pressure on you. especially when you think its in the bag going in. i think its funny these caps fans are backtracking and all of a sudden “holtbeast” isnt the golden boy they thought he was.

    • jpelle82 - Jan 29, 2013 at 10:36 AM

      i wouldnt say lights out – 89% isnt a good save %. you can argue the caps suck in general in front of him but good goalies on good teams can pull you through the lows in a season.

  2. subliminalnoize - Jan 29, 2013 at 8:01 AM

    Neuvy has been the better of the two, but don’t forget the goalie is only one player, and when the team in front of them is playing with the skill of a kid spinning in circles and flailing their arms, its kind of hard for said goalie to do well. That is all.

  3. dipthatchip - Jan 29, 2013 at 9:29 AM

    I still haven’t been able to decide over the past few season if Neuvirth’s boyish blank stare comforts or terrifies me. Either way, rip it up tonight please

    • lizardlickk - Jan 29, 2013 at 12:17 PM

      Gotta ride the hot hand. I love Holts but Neuvy has single handily kept us in the last two games. Right now, he gives us the best chance to win. Lets go boyyys

  4. adlent - Jan 29, 2013 at 10:55 AM

    I am a Caps fan and I despise this. I do not like Neuvirth much at all. The guy gives up far too many big rebounds and has a limited ceiling. Holtby’s “ugly” starts were because the Caps were out of shape and learning a new system. Holtby gives up 4 on 39 shots against Winnipeg and Neuvirth gives up 4 on 22 shots in Montreal, but clearly let’s keep riding Neuvirth who has given the Caps an astonishing 1-1-1 record.

    Put Holtby back in now that the D is finally playing somewhat respectable and he will look good.

    • wethog66 - Jan 29, 2013 at 1:20 PM

      You don’t like Neuvy at all, primarily because he gives to many huge rebounds? Were you watching the 1st two games? Holtby was not helped at all by the bad defense in front of him, but pucks were hitting him like tennis balls bouncing off a brick wall. Holtby’s rebound control sucks.

      Having said that, I am on the opposite side of the Neuvy fence than you. I think the kid has potential and its only now that he is given a legit chance to secure the #1 goalie position. Two years ago he was named NHL rookie of the month and played great, but Varley was still on the team and GMGM favored Varley over Neuvy. Then last year Neuvy should of had his chance, but GMGM brought in Vagkoun and we all know how that worked out.

      Now Neuvy has a legit chance and I hope he seizes it. As Prior said, the kid has back stopped back to back Calder Cup championship teams in Hershey. He’s got a much better resume than Holtby. ITs time for the Caps to give the kid a chance to prove himself. I hope he does.

      • adlent - Jan 29, 2013 at 2:17 PM

        If you’re flailing all around having to chase pucks because you’re defense is all over the place you’ll give up rebounds. Neuvy gives up rebounds because it is his style as a blocking goaltender. Go back and watch the Winnipeg game and see how many shots Holtby was able to absorb into him from near point-blank range. Now, I DEFINITELY am not saying Holtby is perfect, I just think his athleticism gives him a better ceiling than Neuvy, but to each his own.

  5. mgp1219 - Jan 29, 2013 at 12:32 PM

    Holtby’s 15 minutes are up.

  6. dowhatifeellike - Jan 29, 2013 at 1:50 PM

    Holtby still looks raw. He has the talent but he needs to get it together in the next couple seasons or he’ll be done.

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