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.
Alumni rosters announced for Bruins-Habs at Gillette Stadium
The Winter Classic Alumni Game is back this year, scheduled for New Year’s Eve at Gillette Stadium between former members of the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins.
Today, the NHL announced the rosters and coaching staffs.
Famous ex-Habs that will take to the outdoor ice include Larry Robinson, Guy Carbonneau, and Mats Naslund. Behind the bench will be Yvan Cournoyer, Jacques Demers and Guy Lafleur, among others.
The home side will counter with Bruins legends Ray Bourque, Cam Neely, and “Nifty” Rick Middleton, while Don Cherry, Mike Milbury, and Derek Sanderson will be among the coaches. (Quite a trio of personalities right there.)
The hope was that the Columbus Blue Jackets would be jolted into a great, long winning streak, and their season would be saved.
The reality of John Tortorella’s first month behind the bench has been, well, reality. The Jackets are 8-7-0 since Todd Richards was fired. Better than 0-7-0, sure, but at 8-14-0 overall, they remain last in the Eastern Conference.
Fifteen games in, Tortorella is still trying to get his message across.
“A big reason why we bring them in (to practice yesterday and today) is because we don’t have a full understanding of the standard we need to be at in all areas of the game,” he told The Columbus Dispatch. “Some things you can’t control in our game, but it’s how hard you play, how hard you are with your bite as a team, and the pace you play with – you can control that.”
The Jackets play Wednesday in New Jersey, where they’ll look to shake off Sunday’s disappointing home loss to San Jose. Columbus held a 3-1 third-period lead in that one. The Sharks scored four straight to win 5-3.
The San Jose Sharks have signed forward Dainius Zubrus to a one-year, two way contract, the club announced today.
Zubrus was given a tryout with the Sharks last week.
The 37-year-old played 74 games with the Devils last season, scoring just four goals with six assists. His contract was then bought out.
According to a Mercury News source, the decision to sign Zubrus lay “mainly” with his former coach in New Jersey, now San Jose’s bench boss, Pete DeBoer.
“He looks good,” DeBoer said of Zubrus last week, per CSN Bay Area. “He looks close. It’s tough to find six-foot-four, 215-pound guys who can play. … He’s an easy guy to play because he’s defensively reliable. He plays a big possession, heavy game. There’s a lot to like there.”
In a related move, the Sharks have reassigned forward Nikolay Goldobin to the AHL.