With Semyon Varlamov on IR, Michal Neuvirth gets the call to start for Washington

GYI0061847291-neuvirth-gregfiume-getty.jpgThe Washington Capitals plan to open the season with two young netminders in Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth is one that’s getting plenty of attention around the league. Many feel that the Caps opting to go with young guys from within the organization on a team that’s seemingly very close to winning a Stanley Cup is a risky proposition. Others applaud the Caps for going with home grown talent.

Injuries can throw a wrench in the works and with Semyon Varlamov starting the season on injured reserve with a groin issue, it’s up to two-time Calder Cup winner Neuvirth to hold down the fort in the meantime and he could be seeing a lot of work early as Caps Insider’s Katie Carrera shares.

Since the start of training camp Boudreau has said he hopes to play both Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth regularly and give each ample time to prove themselves this season. But because of Varlamov’s injury Neuvirth will be the go-to netminder, for opening weekend at least.

Neuvirth will start against Atlanta Friday and Boudreau wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Neuvirth playing in each of these first three games in four days.

“I’ve done it a lot in my career,” Neuvirth said about the chance he might play in several games in a short period of time. “But I’m just focusing on tomorrow night. I want to be sharp tomorrow and that’s what I’m thinking right now is getting ready for Friday. I’m pretty excited. I can’t wait for the game and I’m going to get a little nervous before the game, but I think I can handle the pressure.”

It’s not an ideal situation for the Capitals and if things get especially scary, Braden Holtby is waiting in the wings to be an even younger home grown goalie for the potential Stanley Cup team. For Neuvirth, however, he was able to do a lot of heavy lifting for the Hershey Bears in the AHL leading the team to the Calder Cup the last two seasons.

Coming up to the Capitals was an eventuality for Neuvirth, but being the opening night starter has to be something even he didn’t envision. After all, with the amount of pressure on the Caps to go far in the playoffs, being the starting goalie for the team is no easy task even on opening night.

(Photo: Greg Fiume – Getty Images)

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    Frustrated by disallowed winner, Sharks coach calls goalie interference rule ‘clear as mud’

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    The San Jose Sharks would’ve had a 3-1 series lead, if not for the referees’s decision to disallow Joe Pavelski‘s overtime goal last night in Nashville.

    Instead, the Sharks are headed back to San Jose tied, 2-2, after Mike Fisher won Game 4 for the Predators in triple OT.

    Not surprisingly, what happened last night didn’t sit too well with Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer, who offered a rather sardonic opinion of the referee’s decision — a decision that was upheld upon review — to disallow Pavelski’s goal due to “incidental contact” with Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne.

    “I don’t understand. I guess incidental contact is you’re cross-checked from behind while you are in the air and you have the opportunity to stop. I guess that’s what it is,” DeBoer said, per Sportsnet.

    “You know what? That rule has been clear as mud to every coach in the league all year, so why should it be different tonight?”

    DeBoer is not wrong that there’s been confusion. What actually constitutes goalie interference has been a hot topic since the league allowed coaches to challenge it.

    For the record, here’s what would’ve been reviewed last night:

    b) Scoring Plays Involving Potential “Interference on the Goalkeeper”

    (ii) A play that results in a “NO GOAL” call on the ice despite the puck having entered the net, where the on-ice Officials have determined that the attacking team was guilty of “Interference on the Goalkeeper” but where the attacking team asserts: (i) there was no actual contact of any kind initiated by an attacking Player with the goalkeeper; or (ii) the attacking Player was pushed, shoved, or fouled by a defending Player causing the attacking Player to come into contact with the goalkeeper; or (iii) the attacking Player’s positioning within the goal crease did not impair the goalkeeper’s ability to defend his goal and, in fact, had no discernible impact on the play.

    So, based on that, it was decided that Pavelski was not “pushed” or “shoved” into Rinne by Nashville’s Paul Gaustad. Or, at the very least, it was decided that Pavelski, after he was pushed, failed to make a “reasonable effort” to avoid contact with the goalie.

    Obviously, that’s not how DeBoer saw it. He didn’t think Pavelski had a chance to avoid crashing into Rinne.

    Regardless, the Sharks will need to put last night behind them and get focused on Saturday’s Game 5. It’s a best-of-three to get to the Western Conference Final now, whether they like it or not. 

    Avs lose another to Europe, as Everberg signs in Sweden

    Dennis Everberg, Jason Pominville
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    Just four days after Joey Hishon signed with KHL club Jokerit, another Colorado player has inked overseas — on Friday, SHL club Vaxjo announced it had agreed to terms with Dennis Everberg.

    Everberg, 24, appeared in 70 games over the last two seasons with the Avs. His best effort came during the ’14-15 campaign, when he scored three goals and 12 points in 55 games.

    Last year, he was largely phased out of the Avalanche lineup — appearing in just 15 contests — and spent most of his time in AHL San Antonio (where, to his credit, he played well, scoring 40 points in 54 games.)

    Signed as an undrafted free agent two years ago, Everberg will now return to the same league in which he first made a name for himself. The 6-foot-4, 205-pounder had played for SHL club Rogle prior to coming to North America.

    Both Everberg and Hishon were set to become RFAs on July 1, and neither seemed as though they had a long-term future with the club.

    As such, these departures can’t come as a big shock.

    Pens want Cullen to return next season

    NEWARK, NJ - NOVEMBER 14: Matt Cullen #7 of the Pittsburgh Penguins skates against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on November 14, 2015 in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils shut out the Penguins 4-0.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    Matt Cullen is oldest active player in this year’s playoffs, an achievement unto itself.

    But the 39-year-old seemingly isn’t content with just being the resident greybeard. He’s playing at a pretty high level.

    He’s racked up five points through nine games, averaging 15:22 TOI per night, and has become a real thorn in Washington’s side.

    How thorny? To the point where, after Game 4, Caps head coach Barry Trotz acknowledged Cullen’s “having a hell of a series against us,” per Sportsnet.

    Cullen will have a chance to extend his postseason on Saturday, when the Pens look to eliminate the Caps — but his GM is thinking about extending things well beyond these playoffs.

    More, from Sportsnet:

    [Cullen] has his own three sons running around the Penguins dressing room after games, and they’re old enough to experience and enjoy this playoff run, too.

    The natural question is what happens next? [Pens GM Jim] Rutherford believes he’ll still be good at age 40 – “I do want him to return, but we’ll deal with that at the appropriate time” – although Cullen seems somewhat less certain about his future.

    As good as he’s played and is playing, it’s not out of the question we’re watching his final games.

    Cullen played this season on a one-year, $800,000 deal, which ranks among Rutherford’s best moves of the campaign. He appeared in all 82 games, scoring 16 goals and 32 points, and finished second to Sidney Crosby in faceoffs won.

    Looking ahead, though, it’s fair to suggest this could be his swan song, as Pittsburgh is pretty loaded at center. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Eric Fehr and Nick Bonino are all fairly entrenched — and under contract — and it looks like young Oscar Sundqvist is ready to push for a spot as well.

    There’s always the possibility of going to free agency, though that seems the least likely route for Cullen.

    Report: It ‘looks like’ Sens prospect White will return to Boston College

    Colin White, center, poses with Ottawa Senators executives after being chosen 21st overall by the Senators, during the first round of the NHL hockey draft, Friday, June 26, 2015, in Sunrise, Fla. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz)
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    Since losing to Quinnipiac in the Frozen Four, the Boston College Eagles have also lost a bunch of their best players.

    Those who made the decision to turn pro include Alex Tuch (Wild), Adam Gilmour (Wild), Miles Wood (Devils), Steve Santini (Devils), and Hobey Baker finalist Thatcher Demko (Canucks).

    The good news for B.C. is that Colin White probably won’t be part of the exodus. According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, it “looks like” White will return for his sophomore season after scoring 43 points in 37 games as a freshman.

    White, 19, was drafted 21st overall by the Ottawa Senators last summer. He said last month that turning pro had “definitely” crossed his mind, but then he also said, “Definitely, B.C. is a great place.”