On Friday, Tomas Vokoun laughed off a question about being nervous in advance of Saturday’s Capitals season opener, delivering the news that he wasn’t because he wasn’t playing. Asked again Sunday, before Monday night’s game against the Lightning, the 35-year-old chuckled again.
“It’s the first game for new team. Before every game you get kind of nervous, but that’s normal,” he said. “No matter how many games you play, if it matters to you, you’re going to get a little nervous.”
Coach Bruce Boudreau confirmed Sunday that it was still his plan for Vokoun to make his Washington debut vs. Tampa Bay Monday at Verizon Center. He has not been eager to talk about the goaltending situation since asked about it Friday.
Before Saturday night’s game, Boudreau said: “Michal’s starting tonight and Tomas is starting Monday. I can’t get any plainer than that.”
Vokoun’s agent, Allan Walsh, said his client being talked up all summer as the No. 1 goalie and then not earning the opening-night start “could be perceived as a slap in the face” because of the symbolic importance of that distinction.
Michal Neuvirth made 28 saves on 31 shots and picked up the victory.
Vokoun admitted being surprised not to start that game. But with the disappointment behind him, it now seems cut and dry for – play and have a little bit of fun.
“I’m just going to go out and enjoy myself. This is a game. You have to, up to a certain point, enjoy yourself,” Vokoun said. “You do all this stuff – practicing and training and all that – and the game should be the reward. You don’t want to stress too much about it.”
Vokoun isn’t thinking about nerves, either. He knows the drill by now.
“I know how to play. I play 650 games in the league, so I’m not worried about it,” he said. “Some nights it’s going to be great nights; some nights aren’t going to be so good. As long as there’s more good ones than bad ones, then you’re OK.”