Michal Neuvirth

Caps goalie Neuvirth on handling criticism: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”


It wasn’t long ago when Michal Neuvirth was mired Dale Hunter’s doghouse.

On Feb. 13, Hunter benched Neuvirth for an important game against San Jose in favor of Braden Holtby — who hadn’t played a game this season. When asked why, Hunter alluded to Neuvirth’s spotty play and said that if the 23-year-old “was standing on his head,” maybe the decision would’ve been different.

Say what you will about Hunter’s methods, but they worked.

Neuvirth has been on fire since the Sharks game — especially during Washington’s current three-game winning streak. He’s allowed just eight goals on 132 shots (.939 save percentage, 1.83 (GAA), a big reason why the Caps have stayed afloat in the Eastern Conference playoff chase.

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” Neuvirth told the Washington Post. “Obviously there are some ups and downs, but I always bounce back. The last three games I’ve been feeling pretty good. I had a good practice today and I’m excited about [Friday].”

Friday, of course, is another huge game for the Caps — though they all are at this stage. It’s a home date against the New Jersey Devils, who sit seventh in the Eastern Conference, and Wshington knows with their two chief Southeast Division rivals having the night off (Florida and Winnipeg), this is a huge chance to make up points.

That said, Caps goalie coach Dave Prior warns Neuvirth against putting too much emphasis on a single game.

“For him it’s a bigger adjustment to not put so much emphasis on one game when you do get to play, because it’s just got to be another game,”Dave Prior said. “But for you, it might mean whether you get to play again in the next month. He’s learning to deal with that more.”

Neuvirth’s teammates are doing all they can to help in his mental approach. Caps blueliner Karl Alzner has been especially supportive — he and Neuvirth go way back to their AHL Hershey days.

“He’s got this personality where he can just brush off anything, a bad game, bad goal, criticism, he seems to be able to forget about it,” Alzner said. “He doesn’t come into the dressing room throwing stuff or yelling and screaming, no matter what happens.

“It’s just not his personality. He’s calm.”

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
Leave a comment

When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky

Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
1 Comment

The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan

1 Comment

Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?