In the playoffs, the net was Michal Neuvirth’s. Bruce Boudreau never pulled the plug on the Capitals’ young goaltender even to attempt to change momentum in the series against the Lightning.
Now, Neuvirth will have to battle 35-year-old Tomas Vokoun just to get it back. Boudreau stated Monday what was expected when the Caps signed Vokoun – that the veteran would go into the season as the starter.
“I think we’re always gonna play who we think is the best,” Boudreau said. “But if you’re looking at a guy that’s had the experience and done everything and been a No. 1 goalie, you gotta give Vokoun the respect that he’s coming in and he’s gonna be the No. 1 guy, and we’ll see where it goes from there.”
Boudreau and general manager George McPhee talked about an organization-wide belief in the kids – Neuvirth and Braden Holtby – but Vokoun was too good to pass up when he became available at the price of $1.5 million for one year.
According to analyst Justin Goldman of the Goalie Guild, roles change so often that having distinctions for the No. 1 and No. 2 guys shouldn’t matter much.
“Do not look at goalies as that label – starter and backup- those are imaginary words,” he said.
Vokoun has spent most of his career on floundering teams in Nashville and Florida, but new Washington associate goaltending coach Olie Kolzig said international experience should prepare him for pressure situations.
“The kids we have here are obviously very talented, but there’s also something to be said for mentorship and having a guy like Tomas around and his experience and he’s a fantastic goalie,” Kolzig said.
Plus, the 41-year-old Kolzig joked that having Vokoun around could help in another area.
“Now I have somebody we can talk about music and he knows what I’m talking about as far bands back from the ‘80s,” he said.