WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 26: Michal Neuvirth #30 of the Washington Capitals warms-up before the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Verizon Center on September 26, 2011 in Washington, DC.

Neuvirth wants Washington’s starting gig: “I will do whatever it takes to be the man”


Of all the questions facing the Washington Capitals this offseason, the goaltending position shouldn’t be one of them. Braden Holtby stepped in and played magnificently during the playoffs and, theoretically, should be the No. 1 heading into next season.

Just don’t tell Michal Neuvirth that.

The 24-year-old Czech told the Washington Times he’s not ready to relinquish the starting gig. It was his prior to getting hurt in early April and, according to Neuvirth, it can be his again.

“I know I can be the No. 1 in this league,” he said. “That’s my goal. I will do whatever it takes to be the man.”

After starring in both the OHL and AHL levels, Neuvirth has struggled to emerge as a bonafide NHL starter. His most complete season came while platooning with Holtby and Semyon Varlamov in 2010-11 (27-12-4, .914 save percentage, 2.45 GAA), a performance that had him pegged for the No. 1 gig this year.

But when Washington went out and signed Tomas Vokoun, that narrative was halted. Neuvirth appeared in 10 fewer games than the year prior and struggled through foot and hip injuries.

As such, next year promises to be a really interesting one in Washington’s goal. Neuvirth and Holtby will be gunning for the No. 1 spot, and they’ll also both be RFAs in 2013.

In essence, they could be battling not just for a position, but also their respective futures with the Capitals.

Sabres place Lehner on IR; Recall Lieuwen

Connor Brown, Robin Lehner
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They’re just one game into their regular season, but the Buffalo Sabres have already had to shift things around in their crease.

The Sabres announced that they have placed starting goaltender Robin Lehner on injured reserve after he was knocked out of Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury.

In a corresponding move, the club has recalled Nathan Lieuwen from their AHL affiliate in Rochester.

The 24-year-old didn’t play in the NHL last season, but he did have a 1-4-0 record with a 2.98 goals-against-average and a .906 save percentage in seven games during the 2013-14 season.

Lieuwen was Buffalo’s sixth round pick, 167th overall, in the 2011 draft.

The Sabres also announced that they have loaned defenseman Jake McCabe and goaltender Linus Ullmark to the Rochester Americans (AHL).

McCabe was a healthy scratch in Thursday’s game against Ottawa, while Ullmark is being activated off I.R. after having double hip surgery during the off-season.



Chara ‘doubtful’ for game against rival Canadiens

Brad Marchand, Zdeno Chara
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It looks like the Boston Bruins will be without their captain again on Saturday night.

Head coach Claude Julien told members of the media that Zdeno Chara is considered doubtful for tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.

Chara suffered an upper-body injury during the preseason and he’s already been forced to miss Boston’s season opening loss to the Jets.

Per CSN, Chara says he’s improving but he won’t return to the lineup until he’s as close to 100 percent as possible.

“Every area of the injury is improving,” said Chara. “Hopefully it’s not long before I’m free of any kind of discomfort. That’s what we’re doing right now…we’re being patient. For sure you don’t want to come back, and be half of what you are…and basically hurting yourself and the team. And you’re putting yourself in a position where you could be missing more time. At this time of the season, I think it’s important to be as close as you can be to 100 percent.”

Based on the number of defensive mistakes they committed on Thursday, the Bruins need Chara back as soon as possible: