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Capitals goalie struggles make for messy situation

Jan 7, 2014, 9:53 AM EDT

michalneuvirthgetty Getty Images

The Washington Capitals have been carrying three healthy goalies for weeks now. That’s an awkward situation under any set of circumstances, but it’s made worse recently by the team’s struggles.

Rookie netminder Philipp Grubauer hasn’t been bad by any stretch of the imagination, but he’s lost four of his last five starts and Braden Holtby‘s confidence was shaken after he allowed five goals on 11 shots on Saturday.

Washington isn’t scheduled to play again until Thursday, which gives Capitals coach Adam Oates plenty of time to mull over who he’ll start next.

“What if I go to (Michal Neuvirth)?” Oates said, according to CSN Washington. “Neuvy deserves a start at some point, right?

That would be interesting if nothing else. Neuvirth has been the team’s third-string goaltender lately and his agent has asked for his client to be traded. It remains to be seen if the Capitals will be able to accommodate that request, but it would likely be easier if he gets some playing time. As it is, Neuvirth hasn’t started since Nov. 22.

The Washington Capitals have just a one-point edge on the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers. If they allow either of those teams to surpass them, the Capitals will have let their current playoff spot slip out of their grasp.

  1. lowenni - Jan 7, 2014 at 10:08 AM

    Give Neuvirth a go and if he does well send Gruby back down the AHL for now. At some point Neuvirth or Gruby can’t sit forever. If Neuvy does well it will just add to his trade value.

  2. capsfan14 - Jan 7, 2014 at 10:11 AM

    For the last time, the goalies are not the real problem, it’s the defensivley lackluster, offensive minded d-men that don’t support the goalies. McPhee hugley underestimates to importance of a solid defensive core, and goes all out to please the fans by adding players to the teams offensive game (which has been fine for years now). Varlamov and Vokun are few examples in the resent past that struggled to find a place with the caps, and are now providing solid tending for their teams. Wake up!

    • ironyisadeadscene - Jan 7, 2014 at 10:25 AM

      Agreed. The Caps are blaming the goaltending for bad defense/defensive scheme. Flyers fans can sympathize but probably won’t

    • jaguar0413 - Jan 7, 2014 at 12:35 PM

      C’mon guys. Holtby only had six saves in his last outing. That’s not even good enough for midget level. There may be other problems, but goaltending is a HUGE issue right now.

  3. jb8588 - Jan 7, 2014 at 10:37 AM

    This has been the case for at least the past 5-6 years with the Caps. Back when they won the President’s Trophy and had that killer team, McPhee had a chance to get Chris Pronger and didn’t do it. Even though the price was high at the time (and rightfully so), I believe he would of been the missing piece to get the team to the finals as he did he with Anaheim & Edmonton. Ever since then, McPhee just utterly refuses to pay the price for a top pairing, tough stay at home d-man that can eat up 20+ minutes a night. It’s been SO obvious that this has been the Caps’ problem from the start and it has never been addressed.

    • jaguar0413 - Jan 7, 2014 at 12:52 PM

      Exactly who is he supposed to go after? Name me a d-man who fits that description and is available. There are no Stevens, Niedermayers, or Chelios in the league anymore that aren’t locked into long term deals. It’s not likely you could convince Nashville to trade Weber or Chicago to part with Seabrook/Keith. Just ask Paul Holmgren. He tried and failed.

      McPhee tried with Hamrlik and it was a disaster. Jeff Schultz was a good prospect who simply stopped progressing once teams realized he was so slow. Now there are a number of young d-men in the system that need time to develop. Orlov, Urbom, Schmidt, Carrick, Wey, Schilling, and Bowey are all 23 or younger. Add in that our two best d-men (Alzner/Carlson) are only 25 and 24 respectively and I think the prospects for shoring up the defense reside in house. Clear out Erskine, Hillen and Green and go after a solid stay at home defenseman (think Regehr or Willie Mitchell of a couple years ago). Then the blue line will be significantly better.

  4. jpelle82 - Jan 7, 2014 at 11:03 AM

    keep ignoring the real problem and blame the goaltending…seems to be the modus operandi in washington for the last 8 or so years, as a pens fan i really hope it continues.

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