Minor re-signing to announce – the Washington Capitals have inked backup goalie Dany Sabourin to a one-year contract.
We’ll go ahead and assume it’s a two-way deal for the 31-year-old that spent most of the season with Hershey of the AHL before backing up Braden Holtby in four postseason games.
For now, Holtby and Michal Neuvirth are expected to compete for the starting job with the big club.
As previously reported, netminder Michal Neuvirth was scheduled to see a doctor Friday afternoon after suffering a lower body injury on Thursday. The results of that examination aren’t known, but it looks like Neuvirth probably won’t play on Saturday. The Washington Capitals summoned Dany Sabourin Friday night so that he would be available for Saturday’s game.
With Tomas Vokoun also sidelined, the Capitals are projected to start Braden Holtby and use Dany Sabourin as their backup. In other words, Washington will finish out the season with the AHL Hershey Bears’ goaltending tandem.
Washington will play the first place New York Rangers on Saturday in a game that will be a playoff preview if the Rangers win. If Washington wins and the Florida Panthers lose in regulation time, then Washington will claim the Southeast Division and the third seed. In that scenario, they will have home ice advantage against the New Jersey Devils in the first round. Alternatively, If Washington wins, Florida picks up at least one point in their season finale, and Ottawa loses in regulation time, then the Capitals will take the seventh seed and play the Boston Bruins in the first round.
The New York Rangers have already locked up the top seed in the Eastern Conference, but they’re still fighting for the Presidents’ Trophy. A win against the Capitals on Saturday would lock it up, not to mention ensure that they start the playoffs against a team that might have two injured goalies going into the first round.
According to the Washington Post’s Katie Carrera, the Washington Capitals have called up goaltender Dany Sabourin to warm the bench on Saturday, which is a good indication of how far along Michal Neuvirth is in his recovery from a lower body injury. Neuvirth has missed four straight days of practice, although he was on the ice after the Capitals practice to take some shots.
Fortunately, Tomas Vokoun has led the Capitals to back-to-back overtime wins in Neuvirth’s absence and he’ll be in a good position to bring his record up to 3-0-0 against the lowly Ottawa Senators. Vokoun and Neuvirth entered the season in a fierce battle for the number one job with the Washington Capitals and Neuvirth’s injury has allowed Vokoun to start in a string of games.
If Neuvirth is able to return in the near future, then the damage to his standing with the Capitals will be minimal. Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau hasn’t seemed overly worried about Neuvirth’s health to this point, but the longer this drags on, the more opportunities Vokoun will have to set himself apart.
Having depth can be a blessing when you’re contending for a Stanley Cup. The kind of depth the Capitals are relying on tonight to back up starting goalie Michal Neuvirth is getting a bit silly though.
ECHL goalie Todd Ford, who you may have seen on waivers yesterday and cleared today, was signed to an NHL contract and will be backing up Neuvirth for the time being thanks to Semyon Varlamov being out day-to-day after leaving practice earlier than expected this morning.
If you’re wondering where usual AHL call-up Braden Holtby is, he too is injured and unable to get the call back to Washington, as is their other NHL-experienced veteran former Penguins and Bruins goalie Dany Sabourin. As long as Neuvirth stays healthy, the Caps don’t have a problem. If anything happens with him, though, look out.
If you’re not familiar with Todd Ford, we don’t fault you for that. What you may know him for is for being the guy who’s got a tremendous ode to Johnny Cash on his goalie mask. Should Ford be forced into any action we’ll be forced to keep the tune of “Ring Of Fire” running through our heads as a guy who is essentially Washington’s fifth option in goal being thrown to the wolves in the NHL can’t bode to well for the success of the Caps or for Ford’s own ego.
Ford’s numbers while briefly in the AHL this year aren’t too hot (11 games, 3.14 goals against average, .879 save percentage) so if he sees any game action in the NHL it’s an even more desperate or dire situation than imagined.
While it’s not a guarantee that he will actually play this weekend, things are looking up for Washington Capitals Semyon Varlamov. Coach Bruce Boudreau said he is expected to dress for Saturday’s game against the Nashville Predators, according to Katie Carrera of the Washington Post.
“Unless something crazy happens tomorrow he’ll be dressing for Saturday’s game,” said Boudreau, who wouldn’t divulge whether Varlamov would start in Nashville. “I think, but I’m not telling.”
Varlamov, who has been hampered by a groin injury, participated in full practices and drills all week and said a few times that he felt ready to go. Now it appears as though he will have that chance sooner rather than later.
Again, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Varlamov is going to start right away. He could just end up backing up Michal Neuvirth, who is 3-1 as the Capitals’ interim unquestioned starter so far this season. If you need a little more substance to support the rumor, Carrera also passed along Bob MacKenzie’s report that the Capitals put temporary backup Dany Sabourin on waivers.