Michal Neuvirth is fine. The Capitals goalie is “good to go,” according to coach Bruce Boudreau. But it’s Braden Holtby again in net Sunday afternoon as the Caps host the Blackhawks at Verizon Center.
That’s because Holtby is rolling along, having stopped 83 of 84 shots (.988 save percentage) since returning to the ice March 7. He hasn’t been removed from that spot since.
“He’s been pretty good. It would seem to be the easiest thing for the coach to do, rather than over-coach and say ‘Is he gonna be good or is he gonna be bad today? Has his time run out?’ ” Boudreau said Sunday morning. “I don’t have a crystal ball; all I know is he’s playing really good. So why not continue to play him till something else happens?”
There he’ll be against defending Stanley Cup-champion Chicago. He’ll be opposed by rookie Corey Crawford, who at 26 is on the older end of Calder Trophy candidates. Crawford is 26-13-4 with a 2.26 goals-against average and .917 save percentage this season for the Blackhawks. He supplanted veteran Marty Turco as the starter earlier in the year.
For Holtby, it’s not about supplanting as much as it is riding a hot streak. Players said Saturday it was a bit of lightning in a bottle and a bit of maturation. It will become clearer which it is if Holtby continues to play like this.