Michal Neuvirth is making progress. While Tomas Vokoun has now won five straight starts, the younger Czech goaltender participated fully in a brief practice Friday.
With that came a positive declaration from coach Bruce Boudreau.
“He was out there the full time,” Boudreau said. “I’ve got to believe he’ll be ready to play in a game next week on the trip.”
Neuvirth suffered a bruised right foot Oct. 13, the result of a shot from a teammate. He appeared to suffer a setback earlier this week, but Friday was optimistic about his condition.
“I’m feeling better, and I can’t wait to get back on the team,” he said.
Third goaltender Dany Sabourin hasn’t gone anywhere, and he very well might again back-up Vokoun on Saturday when the Detroit Red Wings come to town.
“I doubt it if [Neuvirth will] back up [Saturday],” Boudreau said. “But he may.”
Neuvirth deferred that decision to trainer Greg Smith.
“I don’t know right now. It depends how it goes tomorrow pregame skate,” Neuvirth said. “It’s up to Smitty right now, and he’s going to make the decision.”
According to the Detroit News, Red Wings starter Jimmy Howard will get the nod Friday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets and that backup Ty Conklin is expected to start against the Capitals.
If that happens, it would be the fifth time in seven games the Caps have faced a backup goaltender. They’ve already seen Brian Boucher of the Hurricanes, Brent Johnson of the Penguins, Alex Auld of the Senators and Jacob Markstrom of the Panthers. The only starters the Caps have faced are Dwayne Roloson of the Lightning and Ilya Bryzgalov of the Flyers.