At the moment, it seems like Michal Neuvirth is the Washington Capitals’ go-to guy in net.
After Braden Holtby, 23, made two ugly early season games, the Washington Times reports that Neuvirth will receive his fourth consecutive start when the Caps face the Senators in Ottawa on Tuesday.
Seeing the 24-year-old Czech steal the top job for the moment serves as a surprise for some, but it appears that Washington goalie coach Dave Prior hasn’t been caught off guard.
“I get a little defensive on his behalf when people are sort of surprised [by Neuvirth],” Prior said. “His success in the playoffs at the junior and minor league level [shows] he’s got a head on his shoulders that handles pressure well. I’m not surprised how he’s played here.”
The Times article describes Neuvirth’s “quiet confidence,” although he piped up about his competition in net during the off-season, indicating that Holtby isn’t at the same level of prior goalies such as Tomas Vokoun and Semyon Varlamov. He also stood alongside teammate Roman Hamrlik, who made some controversial comments during the lockout.
If there is any lingering bitterness from those comments, it’s not showing enough to pry Neuvirth out of Washington’s net. We’ll see if it stays that way, though.