The knee-jerk reaction is to say that the Washington Capitals are weak in net, especially since they have two or even three* options for who should be the starting goalie. Yet if you look at the numbers, only four NHL teams allowed less goals than the Capitals’ did during the 2010-11 season.
Michal Neuvirth doesn’t have the win-loss record of oft-injured previous starter Semyon Varlamov nor does he have the outstanding (in a small sample) stats of Braden Holtby, but he’s been a rock for the Capitals all season long. For that reason — and perhaps also taking into account his success in the AHL playoffs — the team named him their Game 1 starter, according to Stephen Whyno and CSN Washington.
It is unclear how strong his hold on the No. 1 job might be, though. Does Neuvirth need to look over his shoulder if he has an off game, or will Bruce Boudreau let him roll with the punches a bit? It’s an interesting situation to watch, and although it’s true that their goalies aren’t established like those of other teams, count me among the people who think that it could actually be a position of strength.
* – Depending on how you feel about Braden Holtby.