The 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)
The Vancouver Canucks have called up defenseman Jordan Subban from the AHL.
Subban, the youngest brother of Nashville’s P.K. Subban, has nine goals and 13 assists in 34 games for the Utica Comets this season. The 21-year-old is not very big, and he’s had to work on his defensive play, but as his statistics suggest, he does have good offensive abilities.
It remains to be seen if Subban will actually play for the Canucks, who host Florida tomorrow and then hit the road for a three-game road trip starting Sunday in Chicago. Vancouver also announced today that d-man Andrey Pedan has been reassigned to the AHL. Pedan’s 30-days waivers exemption was set to expire today; hence, that move.
Subban is unlikely to get into the lineup unless Troy Stecher is unable to play. Stecher has reportedly been battling the flu and only logged 11:50 of ice time in Tuesday’s 1-0 win over Nashville.
The Canucks have three defensemen on injured reserve: Erik Gudbranson, Ben Hutton, and Philip Larsen.
Related: Jordan Subban has ‘a great opportunity’ to prove himself to Canucks
The tough times just got tougher for Sam Bennett.
Bennett, the fourth overall pick in 2014, will be a healthy scratch tonight when the Flames host the Preds at the Saddledome, head coach Glen Gulutzan announced.
The 20-year-old is in the midst of an awful slump. Bennett hasn’t scored a goal since Dec. 27 and is pointless in his last 10 games — not the kind of production the team was anticipating, especially after he scored 18 goals and 36 points in his rookie campaign last season.
“It’s frustrating when you’re not producing,” Bennett said earlier this week, per the Calgary Sun. “I want to contribute offensively. But just playing the right way is my main focus. Hopefully, I keep getting chances and eventually one has gotta go in.”
Micheal Ferland will move into the lineup to replace Bennett, and veteran Matt Stajan will be bumped up to the third-line center spot as a result.
Given his pedigree and draft position, expectations for Bennett are pretty high. Calgary anticipated he’d be part of the young, talented forward group that carries the load offensively, alongside the likes of Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Matthew Tkachuk.
And to be fair, Bennett did have a decent start to the year, with 12 points through his first 24 games.
But it’s been tough sledding ever since.
Darryl Sutter wants more from his “top guys.”
In the wake of last night’s 3-2 loss to the Sharks, the Kings’ head coach was no doubt referring to the likes of Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik, each of whom has just four goals this season.
Though Gaborik did manage to score last night, Kopitar didn’t. The captain has just one goal in his last 16 games. And for $10 million a season, it’s not enough to be good defensively.
“You need those top guys to make a difference,” said Sutter, per LA Kings Insider. “You’re going to be in one-goal games, lots of ‘em. How many have we had this year? I mean, how many times? I bet I’ve already pulled the goalie more times ever than I have ever, so that means you’re one goal down. It means that you need your top guys to make a difference there.”
Jeff Carter (23 goals) and Tanner Pearson (14) are the only Kings with double-digit goal totals this season. And with no Tyler Toffoli, it’s even more important that Kopitar and Gaborik start chipping in more regularly.
Gaborik’s produced lately, with three goals in his last six games. That needs to continue, and Kopitar needs to find his scoring touch.
The Kings (22-19-4) kick off a five-game road trip Saturday in Brooklyn. After 45 games, they’re barely hanging on to a wild-card spot, with Vancouver, Nashville, Dallas, and Winnipeg all within striking distance.
It’s worth noting that only four teams have fewer regulation victories than the Kings have (12). If not for their 9-1 record in overtime, they might really be in trouble.
Seth Griffith is on waivers again.
The 24-year-old forward has only managed five assists in 21 games for the Florida Panthers since being claimed off waivers from the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Leafs had claimed Griffith off waivers from Boston at the beginning of the season.
A prolific scorer at the AHL level (he had 77 points in 57 games for Providence last season), Griffith has just six goals and 10 assists in 58 career NHL games.
Griffith has been a healthy scratch the past three games for the Panthers.